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BAKU 

An Eventful History 



Ja D* Henry 



BOUGHT WITH THE INCOME 
FROM THE 

SAGE ENDOWMENT FUND 

THE GIFT OF 

1891 



DK 51 1.B2H52 ""'■""''"' '""'"^ 
Baku: 




3 1924 028 739 088 




A Cornell University 
J Library 



The original of tiiis book is in 
tine Cornell University Library. 

There are no known copyright restrictions in 
the United States on the use of the text. 



http://www.archive.org/details/cu31924028739088 




Mr. Urqiihari was born at Aiclin, 'in' the 
Province ot Smyrna, Asia Minor, He 
studied engineering at Glasgow, chemis- 
try at Edinburgh University, and after- 
wards went into the laboratories of 
the Broxburn and the Lanark Oil 
Works, Scotland. He subsequently 
joined his father, Mr. Andrew Urquhart, 
in business at Oiidjari. Some four years 
ago hejwas appointed general manager 
of the Schibaieft' Company at Baku, 
and a year ago he became general 
manager of fouriof the chief British oil 
companies ^in Russia. He is a nephew 
of the late Mr. Tliomas Urquhart, 
M.I.C.K., M.!.^t v.. the first to intro- 
diice liquid (uil cu the railways in 
Russia. 



!\[k. L]-:sLn-: Urquhart. 




. Gonlishiimbarov, of thu Minisuy 
ofjl-'inance.hasbeen officially con 
nected with the Caucasian oi 
industry from ihe early dajs c 
its development on modern line? 
No one has written more exhaus 
ti\( ly on the engineering, Hquid 
fill 1 and business aspects of the 
industry. As the representative 
nf the Ministry of Finance he has 
visit('d most of the oil fields of ihe 
world, and some three years ago 
hr reported on the state of the 
l',ritisli ml market. 




Mr. Stei'HEN Goulishamhakow 



t/-V-,.;;//,v//, 



BAKU 

AN EVENTFUL HISTORY 

BY 

J. D. HENRY 



fflTH MANY ILLUSTRATIONS AND A MAP. 



LONDON 

ARCHIBALD CONSTABLE & CO. Ltd. 

i6, JAMES STREET, HAYMARKET. 



A.tHcibt.?- 



BRADBURY, AGMEW, & CO. LD., PRINTERS, 
LONDON AND TONERIDGB. 



Mr. LESLIE URQUHART 

(British Vice-Consul at Baku) 

FOR MANY REASONS, BDT CHIEFLY BECAUSE OF THE CNIQDE 

POSITION HE HAS MADE FOR HIMSELF IN THE CACCASDS 

BY ACTING IN MORE THAN ONE CRISIS WITH 

RARE ABILITY, RESOURCE AND PERSONAL 

BRAVERY. 



INTRODUCTORY NOTE BY SIR BOVERTON 
REDWOOD, D.Sc., F.R.S.E., 

Hon. Corr. Mem. Imperial Russian Technical Society 
{Baku Division). 

TWENTY years have passed since the late Charles 
Marvin gave to the British public a vividly descrip- 
tive account of the Baku petroleum industry in " The Region 
of the Eternal Fire." The subject dealt with was necessarily 
highly technical, but it was presented with such literary 
ability that although the work is one which, on account of 
the accuracy of the recorded data, may still with advantage 
be consulted by the technologist, it has probably been found 
by the general public more interesting than any other similar 
publication. 

It has now fallen to another journalist, Mr. J. D. Henry, 
Editor of the Petroleum World, who has returned from 
the Russian oil fields equally impressed with the magnitude 
and importance of the work which has been accomplished, 
to describe the industry as it exists to-day, and to indicate 
the scope for far greater expansion. That this task will 
be successfully performed I am confident, for I have had 
ample opportunities for learning that Mr. Henry possesses 
in a high degree the capacity for rapid collection and orderly 
recording of facts. 



vi INTRODUCTORY NOTE. 

The progress of the Caucasian oil business has been 
temporarily arrested by the recent disorders and destruction 
of property, but the first effect has been to bring into 
greater prominence the extent to which the industrial life 
of the Empire depends upon the supply of petroleum in 
the form of liquid fuel, and the ultimate result will unques- 
tionably be to place the business upon a more secure 
footing. The appearance, therefore, of Mr. Henry's con- 
tribution to the literature of the subject may be regarded 
as opportune. 

BOVERTON REDWOOD. 



PREFACE. 



BAKU has been a remarkable city for centuries. It was 
not, however, until this year that its ancient history, 
portentous modern developments and vast and growing 
industrial influence really became of interest outside Russia. 
Twelve months ago the man who knew nothing about oil was 
ignorant of Baku; to-day Baku is knowxuto- millions. We 
have seen one of the most terrible dramas in modem Cau- 
casian life played on the stage of Baku. The drama of a year 
has been played in three well defined and separate acts. 
December — strikes, terrorism and murders ; February — three 
days of ^ace .jjptchery ; September — fourteen days of unbridled 
savagery and massacre, a battle of tribes fought in blazing oil 
fields and in the streets of a most mysterious city. Unfortu- 
nately, it is as the arena of inter-tribal strife that Baku has 
become known to the civilised world, and not in its more impor- 
tant character of one of the wealthiest and most remarkable 
cities in Russia, producing nearly half of the world's oil supply. 

For a decade, Baku had in its modem industry and ancient 
customs an unnatural combination of forces which were 
bound sooner or later to convulse humanity. In the days 
when Charles Marvin wrote his " Region of the Eternal 
Fire," the new conditions had not reached their zenith and 
the industry had not attained anything like its present 
dimensions. Naturally, the throwing together of an unmix- 
able mixture of races and spiritual influences and such an 
essentially modern commercial enterprise was bound to 
provide material for much stirring history. 

Although necessarily in parts technical and statistical — and 
consequently, it is to be hoped, of permanent value to oil men 
in all parts of the world — this book is largely a product of the 
violent upheaval resulting from the collision of the new and 
old and an incredible amount of bitterness bom of race 
antagonism and trade rivalry. 

What has taken place has entirely altered the face of the oil 
fields and upset the balance of the commercia and financial 
parts of the oil world. The times, I am bold enough to 
think, demand a book, and all the more so seeing that there 



viii PREFACE. 

is a poverty of non -technical information about Baku and the 
origin, progress and present position of its chief industry. 

A word about the scope of the book. I attempt to epitomise 
the early history of the city and its industry, bring the story 
of the spouting wells up to date, record the leading results of 
each year's work, and give some new information about men 
and methods at the oil fields and in the refineries, many of 
which I visited as recently as February last. On its social 
and political side, I am pleased to be able by means of 
letters from unquestionable authorities and in especial from 
Armenians themselves to assist in refuting the charge brought 
against my fellow-countrymen in Baku of deliberately desert- 
ing Armenians at the hour of danger and of handing them 
over to their Tartar enemies. I should like to make it plain 
that on this point, and indeed on all questions touched on, I have 
written without bias ; I have sought to limit the part referring 
to the massacres to a dispassionate record of acts of heroism 
and thriUing incidents which show that even in Baku there is 
much that is civilised, intensely human and even chivalrous. 

Leaving the historical side of the book to speak for itself, 
perhaps I may venture a few remarks on the quite romantic 
development of the industry in South Russia. In recent years 
I have pitched my tent on virgin oil lands on Texas prairies ; 
I visited Spindle Top in boom time ; I have seen the small 
but wonderfully productive fields in the Carpathians ; and 
inspected every property of note at Boryslaw, in Galici^ ; but 
in no part of the world have I seen an oil region the compeer 
of those old and famous fields at Baku, an oil city that can 
equal in wealth this metropolis of the Caucasus, or a body of 
oil men who surpass in energy, enterprise, or business capacity 
those who are at the head of the industry in Baku. 

The oil fields 6i Russia are not played out, and theories of 
early exhatistion are made to look absurd by the most recent 
drilling records and production results. The history of the 
marvellous oil field of Bibi-Eibat, frequently mentioned in 
this book, has proved the falsity of numerous theories put 
forward by technologists who have vainly attempted to solve 
its subterranean mysteries, forecast the length of its life, and 
gauge the capacity of its wealth-earning power. Professor 
Abich was one of the first to go seriously wrong in his calcula- 
tions on two most important points. Just before the abolition 
of the contract system, this geologist predicted (i) that oil 
would not be found at a greater depth than 60 or 70 ft., and 
(2) that the introduction of steam drilling would not be 
beneficial to Baku. Trautschold, another expert of European 



PREFACE. ix 

fame, visited Baku (1873) and made up his mind that oil of 
commercial value would not be struck below 200 ft. The oil, 
he thought, would decline in value as the drill went below the 
140 ft. limit. This was quickly proved to be a fallacy by the 
bringing in of the first famous (Khalafi) spouter. 

The most prolific wells of to-day are between 1,500 and 
2,000 ft., and the hand-dugs, favoured by Abich, were dis- 
carded as far back as 1878. It is a remarkable fact, that 
although Bibi-Eibat has only 222, or practically only a tenth, 
of the 2,000 wells it is yielding nearly a third of the production 
of the Peninsula. The deepest stratum has not been reached 
at Bibi-Eibat and Ramani, or indeed at any of the fields, with 
perhaps the single exception of Balakhani. Not only are 
there some important reserve properties at Bibi-Eibat, but 
the Government has in hand a reclamation scheme which should 
win an oil field from the sea (see map). There is abundant 
evidence that the oil fields of Russia are not played out. 

I am not too hopefully prophetic when I say that there will 
be an early expansion of the oil fields of Russia. New fields 
are being opened up on every hand. Close to Balakhani is 
Binagadi, on the surface of which the drill has only started to 
make its first impressions ; further away are the promising 
Grosny fields, where, en passant, Rothsgbild has just acquired 
the_property_of the Akvefdbv Company, and the Spies Petro- 
leum Company has just brought in another spouter, while on 
the shores of the Caspian Sea we have Berekei, opened up by 
Nobel, and the scene of a great deal of drilling activity, and 
Kaia-Kent, the property of an Anglo- Russian enterprise. Then 
there are Chatma, Tcheleken, Fergana, Telavi, and other fields 
in the northern Caucasus, in the Urals, and on the shore of the 
Black Sea, not far from the oil port of Batoum. 

At Baku the worst consequences of a revolutionary move- 
ment have been experienced. Labour has been meddled with, 
unsettled, and made offensively dictatorial, and a splendid 
industry has been placed in jeopardy. To-day there are more 
strikes at Baku, and cables announce that for the first time in 
the history of the petroleum industry the houses of British oil 
field officials have been attacked. There is, however, some 
reason why the petroleum men of the Caucasus should see in 
the Czar's manifesto and the resumption of office and power 
by Count Witte evidence of the approach of better times in 
the commercial and industrial centres of Russia, and, of course, 
amongst these we must not fail to include the Caucasus with 
its vast mineral resources and a great petroleum industry. 
Count Witte is known to be a friend of this industry ; he 



X PREFACE. 

knows its needs, none better, and as the late Minister of Finance 
he had abundant opportunities for appreciating its immense 
value as a factor in Imperial revenue. 

This brings me to the subject of the future of the industries 
of the Caucasus, Siberia and the Urals. Russia, confessedly 
poor, is not now, any more than she was a quarter of a century 
ago, a philanthropist amongst civilised nations, but she has 
new industrial aspirations which will not materialise without 
foreign financial assistance. It is known that the country is 
anxious to secure the assistance of outside capital in many 
parts of Siberia, right along the Trans-Siberian line, in the 
Urals, in the Caucasus, and even in the cities. Overtures for 
concessions will be welcomed, not discouraged, while every- 
thing will be done to convince foreigners of standing that 
scrupulously honest business is meant. 

The Caucasus is endowed by nature with practically 
inexhaustible mineral wealth ; copper, iron, zinc, tin, and 
many other metals are not only found throughout the region, 
but found in marvellously extensive deposits. We are near 
the time when this vast region will be thrown open to the 
foreign financier. British interests should be well represented 
in this country of great potentialities, and steps should be 
immediately taken to strengthen the bonds which connect 
Great Britain with a number of important trading centres. 
What we have in Russia we must hold, and now that 
Germans and Americans are bidding more vigorously for 
Russian favours and options, British financiers should give 
serious thought to the question of how they can best secure a 
fair share of those fields of industry which Russia will shortly 
attempt to open up with the assistance of foreign financed 
No doubt the recent conference at St. Petersburg will not only 
ensure greater protection for life and property, but result in 
bringing about an entirely new era of industrial development. 

Obviously, practically the chief thing wanted to ensure the 
return of prosperity to Baku is a lasting peace — not a patched- 
up arrangement amongst the fanatical races of the Caucasus, 
but a real, permanent peace guaranteed by a military force 
which the country must keep in the Caucasus before it can 
expect to enlist the assistance of foreign capital in the develop- 
ment of its mineral and industrial resources. 



THE AUTHOR. 



DoWNSWOOD, NEAR LiNGFIELD, 

Surrey. 
November, 1905. 



CONTENTS. 



PART I. 

THE ORIGIN, PROGRESS AND PRESENT POSITION OF 
THE RUSSIAN PETROLEUM INDUSTRY. 

CHAPTER I. 

PAGE 

Baku and its People 3 

Baku a Century Ago — A City of Blood — The First Steam- 
Drilled Well in the Caucasus — Baku Misrepresented — 
Some Millionaire Oil Kings — A World-Famous System of 
Trading — Is Modem Baku Dirty? — Charles Marvin's Con- 
fessions and Predictions — The Confusion of the Ancient 
and Modern — A Population composed of Forty -four 
Nationalities — Where East and West Meet — English 
Graves at the Cemetery — The Bay — Night Scenes — Col. 
Stewart's Description — Flat-Roofed Houses — The Industry 
will Rise, Phoenix-like. 

CHAPTER II. 

The Region of the Eternal Fires 17 

Biblical References to Oil and Bitumen — Oil in Egypt — The 
WeUs of Zante — Alexander the Great at Baku — One of 
the Earliest Spouters — Peter's Instructions to General 
Matushkin — Remarkable Proclamations ; a Coincidence — 
Peter's Descent on Baku — Baku Khans and the Oil Wells — 
The Cult of Fire Worship— Emperor Heraclius Destroys 
the Temples of the Magi, but leaves the Surakhani Temple 
— Natural Gas Fires on the Sea off Bibi-Eibat — "The Sea 
as though it were on Fire " — A Texas Phenomenon. 

CHAPTER III. 

The Dawn of the Russian Oil Industry (1813) . . 29 
Rulers of Baku and the Oil Pits — Arbitrary Proceedings- 
Contract System Started — Crown Revenue from Oil — 
Humboldt's Estimate of Eighty-two Pits in 1839 — 1832-1840 



CONTENTS. 



Production Statistics — Half of the Output sent to Persia — 
Reichenbach's Experiments in 1830 — Photogen Works 
Erected by Liebicli at Surakhani— The 1863-1873 Period — 
Melikov's Refinery at Baku — First Auctions at Baku — 
Followed by the Imposition of New Taxes — Protection 
against American Competition — The First Machine-Drilled 
Well — Mirzoiev's Record. 

CHAPTER IV. 
The Photogen Industry in the Caucasus • • • 39 

Baron Tornau Arrives at Baku — The Government Grant 
Important Privileges — First Works near the Eternal 
Fires — Tornau-Eichler Experiments — Shipowners Refuse 
to Carry Sulphuric Acid — " Photonaphthil " a Failure — 
Paraffin Plant Erected on Holy Island — First Refinery in 
Baku (1863) — English Caustic Soda Sold at Baku — The 
Struggles of Melikov — Battles with the Excise — The 
Lubricating Oil Industry — The Origin of Black Town. 

CHAPTER V. 

Romance of Oil Field Finance, Early (1873) Auctions and 

Primitive Methods of Working .... 51 

The 1873 Auctions — Attempt to Overpower Mirzoiev — Days of 
Wild Competition — List of the Original Owners of Pro- 
perties at Balakhani — The XIX. Group at Bibi-Eibat 
Sold by Tagiev to the Russian Petroleum and Liquid Fuel 
Company, of London — Balakhani under the Contract 
System — Mr. Ragosine's Impressions — A Busy Year (187a) 
at Balakhani — The First Engineering Works at the Oil 
Fields — The Old Subterranean Lake Theory — Vermishev 
Spouter at Balakhani — Crude at Two Copecks per Pood — 
Rapid Increase of Production — Spouters Brought in Daily. 

CHAPTER VI. 

Some Famous Spouters (1876 — 1880) . . . , , 63 

The Soutchastniki Company and its Record of Spouters — 
Shaitan Bazaar — Ramani and Zabrat Estates — Extension 
of the Field — A Well which gave Three Million Poods — 
How a Garden became an Oil Field — Oil Men Scramble to 
get into the Golden Bazaar — The Ararat and Sun Wells ; 
together they Produce Twenty-Four Million Poods — 
Binagadi and the Excise — Drilling at Surakhapi a Failure 
— White Oil — Early Excise Anomalies — Opening of the 
Transcaucasian Railway. 



CONTENTS. xiii 

CHAPTER VII. 

PAGE 

Transport and Drilling Improvements (1872 — 1880) . . 70 

Exit, the Hand-Dug — The American Rope System in Russia — 
Horse and Camel v. Pipe Line — First Pipe Line Laid by 
Nobels — Hostility of the Natives — Followers of Nobel — 
First Oil Field Railway— The First Bulk Oil-Carrier on 
the Caspian — Nobels' First Tank Steamer — ^The Industry 
Badly Organised — The Competition with American Illumi- 
nating Oil — St. Petersburg and Petroleum Taxation— The 
Outlook in 1880. 

CHAPTER VIII. 
The Nobels and Russian Oil 83 



The Start Twenty-Five Years Ago — Remarkable Figures — First 
in the World for Production — Emmanuel Nobel, the Father, 
his Work, Inventions, and Failure in Russia — Alfred, the 
Inventor of Guns and Dynamite — His Famous Peace 
Prize — Robert Nobel's First Journey to Baku — A Small 
Refinery Purchased — First Pipe Line — Pioneers of Deep 
Drilling at Balakhani. 

CHAPTER IX. 

The Great Spouters of 1881 — i8go gz 

Golden and Shaitan Bazaars to the Front — A Glut of Oil — 
Nobel's First Spouter — Eruption of Gas Stops Work at 
Balakhani — Oil Field Surprises — Advantages of a Sound 
Organisation — A Spouter on Exhibition — The Droozhba 
Catastrophe — Owners go Bankrupt — Government Inter- 
venes — The Impressions of Professor Engler and Colonel 
Stewart — First Prolific Spouters of Bibi-Eibat — Balakhani 
Sensation — The Mining Company's Spouter — Well 
Guarded by Cossacks. 

CHAPTER X. 

Growth of the Industry, 1881 — 1890 109 

Steady Progress — Ousting the Small Firms — The White Town 
— Transport Difficulties — Jewish Pioneers on Russian 
Markets — Completion of Baku-Batoum Railway — Advent 
of the Rothschilds — Russian Exports Handicapped — 
Colonel Stewart on Baku Business Methods — No British 
Firms at Baku — Pipe Line Schemes — Permission to Run 
Private Tank Cars — Baku's First Syndicate — Imposition 
of Excise Tax on Kerosene — Starting of the Statistical 
Bureau — ^The Industry at the End of the Period. 



xiv CONTENTS. 

CHAPTER XI. 

PAGE 

History of the Early Conferences izo 

The 1886 Conference and the Caspian-Black Sea Pipe Line — 
Lasts Twenty-Seven Days — Trouble between Large and 
Small Firms — Question of Representation — One Firm One 
Vote — A Resolution that Resulted in the Withdrawal of 
Large Producers — ^The Small Refiners and the Fees — ^The 
Aims and Objects of the Producers' Association, the 
Greatest of the kind in the World. 

CHAPTER Xn. 

The Industry from 1891 131 

General Review — The Cholera Year — Extension of Proven 
Area — Royalty Facts and Figures — Production Statistics 
— The Life of Baku Wells — Refineries — Exports — Prices. 



PART II. 

THE RISING IN THE CAUCASUS. 

CHAPTER XIIL 

The First (February) Massacres — An Armenian at Bay 149 

Conflicting Versions of the Origin — Who began the Warfare in 
the Caucasus ? — The Strange Experience of a Times 
Correspondent — Armenian and Tartar Versions — The 
Armenian Adamoff's Fight on the Balcony — A Three Days' 
Siege — Shot in the Head — Death of Young Adamoff — The 
House Stormed by Tartars and the Inmates Murdered — 
End of the Lalaeffs — Tartar Dead — Street Incidents — 
Cossacks Demand Money for Succouring Armenians. 

CHAPTER XIV. 

The " Chucksee Wucksee " at Baku 164 

Mr. Herbert Coxon and the Molokans — The Rise of AU Ibn Abi 
Talib — Elected Calipha in 656 — Assassinated by Fanatics 
in 661 — Descendants of Ali fight for the Caliphate — Hasan, 
the Fifth Calipha, Poisoned by one of his Wives — History 
of the Shiites — Hoseim, Second Son of Ali — The " Chucksee 
Wucksee " Ceremonies at Baku — " Cutting " Day — Boy 
Performers — Youths Beat Themselves with Chains and 
White-Robed Men Cut their Heads with Kinjals — 
Staggering Blood-Soaked Figures. 



CONTENTS. 
CHAPTER XV. 



Baku in September 



PAGE 

171 



Shusha's Example— Shusha in Ruins— Baku Arming — The 
Soldiers and Tram Strikers— A Day of Small Skirmishes 
" The Black Hundred "—Tartar Quarter Described— The 
First Victim, a Mahomedan Shopkeeper — Armenian 
Watchmen— No Quarter ; " An Eye for an Eye "—The 
Oil Fields Ablaze. 



CHAPTER XVI. 

The Balakhani Oil Fields Ablaze 179 

From Baku to Balakhani— The Mantascheff Plots on Fire— 
Some Thrilling Episodes— The Mystery of the Bell at 
Balakhani — Armenians Defeat the Tartars — Tartars 
Charged by Cossacks — Arrival of Tartar Chiefs — The 
Fight at the Hospital— Terrible Battle at the Mantascheff 
Works — Attack on the Property of the Governor of the 
Caucasus. 

CHAPTER XVn. 

Balakhani (continued). Thrilling Account of a Visit 

TO THE Oil Field 187 

An Eye for an Eye — Deeds of Heroism — A Daring Ruse — 
Armenians Disguised as Cossacks — Story of an Armenian 
Clerk — The Experiences of a Hunted Armenian — His 
Escape. 

CHAPTER XVIII. 

ZaBRAT, where THE BRITISH Vi^ERE BESIEGED . . . 193 

The Diary of Mr. Roland Wallis — Names of the British — 
Tartars ask for Bread and Demand that Armenians shall 
be Given Up^Escort Offered — Mantascheff's Zabrat 
Barracks rushed by Tartars — Stableman carries an Appeal 
for Help to Baku — Aramazd's Derricks Fired — Lezghin 
Watchman Shot — "Lit Up as in Broad Daylight" — 
Pitoiev's Works Sacked and Destroyed — Tartar Watch- 
men Protect Armenians — Eight Armenians Shot and 
Mutilated — How a Kazan Tartar Saved two Armenian 
Women — Earthquake Shock — Mr. Leslie Urquhart's Ride 
— " A Brave Deed Bravely Done " — Letter from an 
Armenian. 



xvi CONTENTS. 

CHAPTER XIX. 

PAGE 
BiBI-ElBAT 204 

Official Report of the Massacres — Armenians Fire on a 
Cossack Camp — War with Bombs — Anglo-Russian Pro- 
perties Fired — Armenians Dressed as Soldiers — Mr. Reay, 
a Tynesider, in the Thick of it — Warsaw and Baku — A 
Remarkable Proclamation — Order to Fire without 
Warning — " If they Stay we shall Kill them" — Flight of 
Armenians from the Valley — Mr. Mancho's Brave Act — 
French Manager Assassinated — Three Armenians and 
Three Cossacks — Lives Saved by a Tip — Telephone at 
Work — Armenian Boy's Revenge — Sea Robbers — A Steam 
Launch and a Schooner Land Armed Tartars. 



PART III. 
BATOUM, BAKU'S CHIEF OIL PORT. 

CHAPTER XX. 

Batoum : Its Pipe Lines, Shipping, and Petroleum 

Exports aig 

The World's Greatest Oil Port — Its Disappearing Trade — 
Seven Years' Exports — Oil Loading Arrangements — Novo- 
rossisk Exports — Early Days of the Tank Steamer — 
Principles of Construction — The Separate Tank System a 
Failure — Dual Cargoes — The Pioneer Tanker Fader- 
land built at Jarrow-on-Tyne — Tank Steamers on the 
Caspian — The First Transatlantic Oil-Carrier built in 
England — The German-Owned Gluckauf — First Cargo 
of Bulk Oil Delivered in England — III- Fated Bakuin — 
The Sunderland-built Steamer Chigwell — Oil-Carriers 
of the Eighties compared with the Leviathans of To-Day 
— ^The Growth of the Fleets. 

CHAPTER XXI. 

The Growth of the European-Batoum Oil Trade — Export 

Rules and Customs — Case Oil Trade at Batoum . 33a 

APPENDIX. 

Transcaucasian Tariffs — Railway Transport to Inland 
Markets — Caspian and Volga Navigation — Work 
Re-started at Baku — The Stoppage of Work and 
Water Trouble — St. Petersburg Conference — 
1905 Returns of Baku Stocks and Production — 
Batoum Exports 241 

Russian Weights and Measures 255 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS. 



-♦- 



FACING 
FAGS 



Mr. Leslie Urquhart Frontispiece. 

Mr. Stephen Goulishambarov ... „ 

The Church at the Oil Field of Balakhani . . . iz 

The Ancient Palace of the Khans at Baku . . . la 

The Ancient Temple of the Fire Worshippers at 

Surakhani, near Baku a4 

TiFLis, Capital of the Rebellious Caucasus ... 40 
The Famous Georgian Road. In the Heart of the 

Caucasus . . . . .... 40 

Part of the Black Town Refinery Region ... 46 

Saboonchi Lake, with the Oil Field in the Distance . 56 
The Late Mr. Ludwig Nobel .... .86 

Mr. G. M. Lianosov 85 

Derrick Destroyed by a Spouter. Spouting Well in 

' Action 98 

Mr. H. Z. a. Tagiev 118 

Sir Boverton Redwood, D.Sc, F.R.S.E 118 

A Group op Leading Oil Men at Baku .... 126 

Tunnel, the Scene of One of the Most Frightful 

Atrocities in September . 134 

Parts of the Refinery ok the Schibaieff Company 

(London) .... 142 

Map of the Balakhani-Saboonchi-Ramani Region . . 146 
B o 



xviii LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS. 



FACING 
PAGE 



The Home of the Adamoffs (from a Photo Taken Two 

Days after the Murder of the Inmates) . . . 156 

Scenes at a " Chucksee Wucksee " Ceremony of Self- 
Mutilation 164 

Ceremony of Self-Mutilation 168 

Shot Dead in the Streets 170 

The Dumb Victim ... 170 

Shot in the Street 178 

Massacred Armenians Laid Out for Burial . . . 178 

Devastation of Oil Fields 303 

Dead Armenians aio 

Armenians Proclaiming Peace 316 

A Peace Procession ai6 

Scenes at Batoum, the Oil Port of the Caucasus . . 334 

A British Oil-Carrying Steamer 330 

Oil Tank Steamers on the Caspian 330 

A Fire-Swept Plot 334 



Oil Wells in Flames 



240 



PART I. 

BAKU AND ITS PEOPLE. 



BAKU. 

CHAPTER I. 
BAKU AND ITS PEOPLE. 

BAKU A CENTURY AGO — A CITY OF BLOOD — THE FIRST STEAM- 
DRILLED WELL IN THE CAUCASUS — BAKU MISREPRESENTED — 
SOME MILLIONAIRE OIL KINGS — A WORLD-FAMOUS SYSTEM OF 
TRADING — IS MODERN BAKU DIRTY? — CHARLES MARVIN'S CON- 
FESSIONS AND PREDICTIONS — NIGHT SCENE AT BAKU — THE 
CONFUSION OF THE ANCIENT AND MODERN — A POPULATION COM- 
POSED OF FORTY-FOUR NATIONALITIES — WHERE EAST AND WEST 
MEET — ENGLISH GRAVES AT THE CEMETERY — THE BAY — NIGHT 
SCENES — COL. STEWART'S DESCRIPTION — FLAT-ROOFED HOUSES — 
THE INDUSTRY WILL RISE, PHCENIX-LIKE. 

Baku, one of the most ancient cities of Russia, and 
described by EHse Reclus as " a great natural workshop," 
was a flourishing place as far back as the eighth century. 
It fell into the hands of Persia in the sixteenth century, 
although it maintained its autonomy under a separate 
Khan. The Russians finally stormed and took it in 1806, 
and in a few months' time it will have been a century 
under the dominion of Russia. That is the Baku of 
encyclopaedic history. 

Modern Baku, the city that has been so much talked 
about this autumn, is the greatest blood spot in the 
mysterious, rebellious and blood-stained Caucasus. On 

B 2 



4 BAKU. 

March I2th, this year, when I sent off my first account 
of the massacres of that time, I started in this manner — 

" Baku has the reputation of being a city of blood. Over 
a period of 400 years more blood has been shed in Baku 
than in any other part of the Caucasus. The horrors of 
the week will do a great deal to keep alive its reputation 
for inter-racial savagery, a sheer love of butchery, and an 
almost expert knowledge of the awful art of mutilation 
with that most terrible weapon, the kinjal." 

Baku has written a corroboration of this in letters of 
blood. The September tragedy has dwarfed into insignifi- 
cance the horrors of those three days of panic, massacre 
and starvation in February, when 2,000 persons were 
murdered in the streets and oil fields of Baku. Twice 
this year has Baku burned red in the eye of the world. 

If it is infamous and notorious on account of unimagin- 
able inter-tribal hatreds which culminated in the terrible 
massacres of February and September, and for which we 
can find no parallel in any other part of Russia, we must 
not forget that in oil there is no greater name than 
Baku. The world owes much to Baku, the most ancient, 
just as it was before these racial risings the most prolific 
and profitable, oil-producing and refining centre in the 
world. 

It is just about thirty years since the steam-drilled 
well put an end to the era of primitive hand-dugs at Baku. 
A start was made with a single well, and from this small 
beginning there has sprung into existence an industry 
quite as important as those of coal and iron. 

For nearly a quarter of a century it has ruled the 
petroleum world with the marvellous production of its 



BAKU AND ITS PEOPLE. 5 

vast oil fields and the output of its numerous refiperies. 
For a generation Baku has kept the balance of trade in the 
important matter of a world's commodity ; her subterranean 
stores have provided those supplies which have prevented 
a world-wide American monopoly and kept oil cheap on 
this side of the Atlantic. 

In oil Baku is incomparable. I know of no oil city that 
will compare with it, either in subterranean wealth or, to 
leave the commercial for a moment, in wealth of history 
and tradition, legend and story. Los Angeles, chief town 
in the oil fields of far-away California ; Petrolea, Canada's 
petroleum capital ; Beaumont, the four-year-old creation 
of Texas oil ; Boryslaw, chief of the widely scattered group 
of oil fields in Galicia, home of the ancient Poles ; Campina, 
in Roumania, and a score of other oil-producing centres 
can in no way be compared with Baku. Baku is greater 
than any other oil city in the world. If oil is king, Baku 
is its throne. 

Baku is unique ; its wild life is full of memories of 
insurrections and romance ; while the mysteries of its 
people — an extraordinary conglomeration of conflicting 
races and antagonistic spiritual influences — and that 
greatest mystery of all, the limitless extent of its oil 
deposits, are not more fascinating than its actual achieve- 
ments in the realms of trade and commerce. 

In this country we speak of Russian oil ; rather should 
we speak of Baku oil, for practically all the oil in Russia 
comes from the Bibi-Eibat and Balakhani-Saboonchi- 
Ramani oil fields, the two most famous groups in the 
world, and, strangely enough, almost beyond the southern 
fringe of the vast empire of the Muscovite. American oil 
comes from many states, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, 
Texas, California and half a dozen others, and in this 



6 BAKU. 

respect is more truly American than the oil of the 
Apscheron Peninsula is Russian. 

* * # * 

It is the misfortune of Baku to haye been frequently and 
absurdly misrepresented, and during the massacres oftener 
than ever. To-day, when many of the buildings are in 
ruins, it is impossible to paint the picture too black, but 
before the massacres Baku was a great and splendid city. 
While modem Baku was burning we were given a con- 
fusing epitome of rival ancient descriptions of its appear- 
ance, population, and oil trade. It would almost seem 
as if there had been a daily paper conspiracy to write 
down this most unfortunate city. For instance, if we omit the 
first four words, the following will most assuredly mislead 
those who have not seen Baku — " Baku is very rich, but 
it is very ugly . . . The first impression is a dismal 
one ; nor is a closer view much more inviting." This 
calumny, penned innocently enough, no doubt, appeared in 
a regulation column on the editorial page of a leading 
London morning paper. Only the first four words are 
correct. Baku is unquestionably, but not ostentatiously, 
rich, some would say romantically rich. There are more 
millionaires interested in Baku oil than in any other 
Russian industry. Some of these, notably Nobel (Swede), 
Rothschild (Frenchman), Gukassoff (Armenian), and 
MantaschefF (Armenian), mentioned because their petro- 
leum companies have offices in London, may lose fortunes 
through the wholesale destruction of the oil wells, tanks 
and pipe lines, but they will remain millionaires all the 
same. Some of the greatest of the oil kings of the 
Caucasus laid the foundations of their fortunes by selling 
petroleum-bearing territories to British and other foreign 
companies. Some are still active workers in oil and retain 



BAKU AND ITS PEOPLE. 7 

leading positions in producing and refining concerns. 
There are a number of private palaces (designed by the 
greatest architects of the country, and lavishly decorated by 
famous Italian artists) owned by the principal oil men 
of the Caucasus. The statement that Baku has made 
more men wealthy than America is true, if we leave 
Mr. John D. Rockefeller and his lieutenants out of the 
calculation. 

Baku is indeed rich ; it is a city in which there is indis- 
putable evidence of immense wealth, more wealth, I should 
say, than in any English city of the same size. Oil has 
made it so. 

It is a city of great failures, chiefly foreign ; and gigantic 
successes. The ramifications of its world-famous system of 
trading do not come to an end at Astrakhan or even at 
Nizhni, but, pushed forward with all the power and resource 
of such firms as Nobel and Rothschild, extend up the 
mighty Volga through the heart of the Empire to the 
Baltic shore, can be traced across the Caucasus to Batoum 
and Novorossisk and thence on to Europe, the Near and 
Far East, and our own Indian Empire, or across the 
Caspian Sea to Persia and Central Asia. 

Why is Baku rich ? The answer is simple — because it 
produces a commodity which has a market wider than the 
civilised world, for it is carried on camels into the inner- 
most parts of the Asian Continent, and on yaks into the 
wild regions of the Himalayas. 

* * * • 

There is another respect in which the newspapers have" 
misrepresented Baku. 

" Over the town hangs a dense black cloud of smoke, 
and long before you reach it you perceive the all-pervading 



8 BAKU. 

smell of oil, which you will breathe everywhere and taste 
in everything so long as you remain at Baku." 

The writer of this paragraph draws much too black a 
picture. When the Bibi-Eibat field had reached its zenith 
— and that was five years ago, when it was a common thing 
for a single plot to have three fountains simultaneously — 
oil rain was carried over Bailov Promontory (separating 
Baku from Bibi-Eibat) and fell in the ancient part of the 
city. The only black spots at Baku are Bibi-Eibat and the 
Black Town ; Balakhani is nine miles north of Baku. 
Within the city walls Baku is cleaner than the best kept 
towns in our own black country, and much of what has 
been written about its oily and unclean appearance is but 
a repetition of word painting done by writers who visited it 
when the bringing in of fountains was a daily occurrence, 
and when, in the day of wooden derricks, ordinary oil 
field fires were more serious than they are to-day, when a 
large percentage of the derricks are covered with fire- 
resisting gypsolite or iron sheets. 

I can best continue the subject of the misrepresentation 
of Baku by giving Charles Marvin's opinion, written nearly 
thirty years ago, when an architectural metamorphosis 
was taking place, and the city was being rapidly modernised 
to meet the needs of the new industry of oil. Marvin, 
starting with the ejaculatory confession, "Baku fairly 
amazed me," proceeded thus — 

" The numerous reports that had appeared in the Russian 
Press of late years, describing and extolling its progress, 
had prepared me for a spectacle of rapid development, but 
I must confess that I had no idea Baku was such a large 
place. To most English people the Caspian is a sort of 



BAKU AND ITS PEOPLE. 9 

Dead Sea. They think there is little or no activity there. 
They forget that it is the natural outlet of the stream of 
life, of commerce, and of progress flowing down the Volga 
— the main artery of the Russian Empire. To such people 
a glimpse of Baku would be what Dick Swiveller would 
term a ' regular stunner.' What was ten years ago a sleepy 
Persian town is to-day a thriving city. There is more 
building activity visible at Baku than in any other place in 
the Russian Empire. . . . Baku is situated on a magnificent 
bay, in the shape of a crescent, seven miles across from 
point to point, and about fifteen in circumference. Across 
the mouth of the bay, well out to sea, is disposed an island, 
much in the same fashion as the Plymouth breakwater, 
thoroughly protecting it from adverse winds, and enabling 
it to give secure anchorage to thousands of vessels. I was 
astonished at the amount of shipping in the bay. . . . From 
one end of the town to the other, we saw the character of 
Baku being transformed. Everywhere old houses were 
being pulled down and new ones being built ; streets were 
being laid out in regular lines, and paved with stone or 
asphalt ; the wretched booths of the Persians were being 
replaced by spacious Russian shops ; and the great old 
Persian Fortress was being exhumed from the mass of 
surrounding buildings, and laid bare to the gaze of the 
world. In two or three years Baku will be a new city, 
with most of the comforts and luxuries of civilisation, 
including even tramways, for the construction of which 
a syndicate is now being formed in Russia. As the place 
develops, its disadvantages — the heat, dust, absence of 
good water, rainlessness and the want of vegetation — will 
be largely mitigated." 

Time has justified the predictions of the petroleum 



lo BAKU. 

pamphleteer and distinguished Russian traveller and scholar. 
Baku is indeed a new city. I should say that since 
Marvin's day it has, instead of " a wretched little shanty 
station in the midst of a wilderness," into which " the trains 
dropped him," a magnificent station, one of the most per- 
fectly designed and spacious in a country that is famous 
for huge stations and slow trains. 

Before I give my impressions of the city let me dispose 
of one more misrepresentation, pardonable, perhaps, because 
it occurs in connection with a legend of which every 
traveller is given a new and original version. I refer to 
the famous Maiden's Tower. Mr. F. H. Skrine, who 
visited Baku about six years ago, gives the following 
account : — " Once on a time (it runs) there was a lovely 
princess who was sought in marriage by a youth of equal 
rank. But her heart was already pledged, and she ' ever 
would unto his suit say no.' At last she was conquered by 
his importunity, reinforced as it was by parental pressure, 
and consented to be his on condition that he built a tower 
in the Caspian Sea. Love laughs at difficulties, and soon 
a fortress raised its head a hundred and twenty feet above 
the waves. The poor girl had no excuse for postponing 
her lover's bliss. The wedding was celebrated in the 
new tower with lavish magnificence ; but, when the young 
husband advanced to raise the veil which had concealed the 
virgin's charms she broke from him and leapt headlong 
into the sea. This is the popular Black Town version of 
this love romance." 

I noticed that during the massacres the sad story of this 
lovely princess received a new and startling rendering in the 
columns of a London daily paper famous for the manner 
in which it gives everything in microscopic epitome form. 
Thus, the new rendering of the legend of the Maiden's 



BAKU AND ITS PEOPLE. ii 

Tower — " The brick walls of the old Persian citadel in the 
middle of the town are still standing almost intact, and 
below them rises the Maiden's Tower, a double structure 
also of brick, about 1 50 feet high. According to the legend, 
a Tartar Khan and his son were both enamoured of the same 
maiden, and being unable to decide which would marry 
her, solved the question by throwing her down from the top 
of the tower" 

Now, the story I favour differs only slightly from the one 
told by Mr. Skrine, and comes into conflict with the daily 
paper rendering in the vitally important matter of whether 
it was a case of suicide or murder. In Baku I was assured 
that the maiden's lover was a lascivious old Khan, and not 
a " youth of equal rank," and that the maid threw herself, 
and was not thrown by the Khan, from the top of the tower 
into the sea. 

The census returns of Baku town, Bailov Promontory, 
White Town, the villages of Kishli and Akhmedli, the oil 
field region of Bibi - Eibat, the Balakhani - Saboonchi- 
Ramani fields and Balakhani, Saboonchi, Ramani and 
Zabrat villages put the population at 206,757.* Forty- 
four nationalities are registered. These include represen- 
tatives of nearly all European nations. Central Asia, Asia 
Minor, Persia, Arabia, and even Abyssinia. The chief 
nationalities number thirteen, and each of these has more 
than 500 representatives. The first place is occupied by 
Russians, who number 74,254 ; then follow 53,827 local 
Tartars, 34,259 Armenians, 18,572 Persians, 5,859 Jews, 
5,025 Germans, 4,157 Tartars from south-eastern Russia 
(known as Kazan Tartars), 3,857 Lezghins, 2,614 Georgians, 

* Twenty years ago the population of Baku was between 70,000 
and 80,000. 



12 BAKU. 

1,548 Poles, 617 Greeks, and 679 Mordovtzis. The other 
inhabitants — to the number of 1,646 — represent thirty-one 
nationalities. Eight of these — Swedes, Ossetins, Letts, 
Bohemians, Slovaks, Frenchmen, Lithuanians, Englishmen, 
and Turks — have each over one hundred representatives. 
The remaining twenty-three nationalities account for less 
than 100 each, while seventeen are represented by less than 
25 persons each. 



The sexes are : 












City. 


Suburbs. 


Oil Fields. 


Total. 


Men. 


78,863 


11,144 


38,080 


128,087 


Women 


59-748 
138,611 


6,121 


12,795 
50,87s 


78,664 


Total 


17,265 


206,751 


Number of women 










per i,oc» men 


758 


549 


336 


614 



Baku, commercially and ethnologically the Johannes- 
burg of Russia, has within herself, historically, architect- 
urally, and even in its ordinary street scenes, a most 
extraordinary confusion of the ancient and modern. You 
see this everywhere. The modern, stone-built palaces of 
the oil kings, the new technical school, erected on the best 
European model, and hundreds of fine public buildings, 
are not more conspicuous than the ancient land marks of 
the city — the Maiden's Tower (Baku's extraordinary light- 
house), the ancient and crumbling battlemented walls, the 
mosque of the Persian Shahs (1078), the palace of the 
Khans* (iSth century), the old buildings in which lived the 

* The palace of the Khans, a fine specimen of Oriental architecture, 
has been used this year as an ammunition store. Just before the 
massacres the municipal authorities asked the chiefs of the military to 
permit them to convert it into a public museum. The request was 
refused on the ground that the ancient building will be used as a 
hospital for the wounded returning from Manchuria. 



^?f^ 





'JIM 




: fcj.p-cs- 






THi; CHURCH AT THE OIL FIELD OF BALAKHANI. WHKN THK bl-riLMl 1 U 
MASSACRES WERE STARTING THE BELL IN THE GREAT TO«ER WAS 
TOLLED MVSTERIOUSLV AND OMINOUSLY, HY WHOM, NO ONE KNLW 




THE ANCIENT PALACE OF THE KHANb AT UAKU. 



{To/ace Pai:c 12. 



BAKU AND ITS PEOPLE. 13 

princes of other days, and the thousands of small shops in 
which sad-eyed Asiatics and more business-like and indus- 
trious Armenians sell their famous Caucasian carpets, 
hammered and filagree silver goods, " slop " clothing, and 
all kinds of ancient weapons. 

In it the electric light and the telephone are more used 
by private persons than in any city of the same size in this 
country. Though so very modern in these respects, Baku 
remains loyal to its ancient water-carts and camel teams. I 
have said that the ancient and modern meet ; and they 
even come together in the huge cemeteries of the city. 
The andent one lies conspicuously on the steep slopes 
of a hill at the back of Baku. Thousands of head-stones 
on the graves of Christians, Armenians, and Mahommedans 
have fallen and lie about in the greatest confusion, giving 
one the impression that there has been a land slide. On 
the top of the hill is the new cemetery. In the German 
part, near to the Armenian quarter, the remains of three 
Britishers have found a last resting-place. Mr. A. W. 
WagstafiF, the general manager of the Schibaieff Petroleum 
Company, is buried there, and close by are the resting- 
places of Mr. Wiskin and Mr. Ferguson. 

Approached from the Caspian, Baku — on the hillside, 
a panorama of white houses and splendid public buildings, 
and below the business thoroughfare stretching from Bailov 
Point and Black Town, a distance of seven miles — is 
picturesque, nay, majestic and noble, I care not whether it is 
seen beneath the winter snow or the tropical summer sun. 

In the curve of the Bailov horn of the crescent, a natural 
harbour of refuge within the larger bay, the vessels of the 
Caspian Sea fleet ride at anchor, and seldom put out to 
sea. They are mostly of the gunboat type, too small to be 
a serious factor in the fierce fights of the factions of the 



14 BAKU. 

city. Huge wooded oil-carrying barges are being con- 
stantly towed by screw tugs from the oil field at Bibi-Eibat, 
behind Bailov Point, to the Black Town and White Town 
refineries at the other side of the beautiful crescent-shaped 
bay. The night scene at Baku, the range of lights, as they 
rise on the hills, skirt the promenade, light up the wharves, 
landing piers, and passenger steamers, is one of exceptional 
beauty, and (if I may venture on another comparison) in no 
way inferior to the best artificial effects secured in the bays 
of our own most famous watering-places. 

Colonel Stewart, who in 1886 wrote an interesting 
account of his travels in the Caucasus, says : — 

" The town itself is situated on a fine well-sheltered bay ; 
immediately to the south of it is situated the small oil field 
of Bibiabad, on a bay of its own ; then nearer the town, on 
a promontory, are situated the naval quarters. Then along 
the coast of the bay, in a line running from west to east are 
situated — first, the town itself, where trade is carried on ; 
then the Black Town, in which the majority of the refineries 
are situated. Still further eastwards comes the White 
Town, where most of the modern and superior refineries 
are placed. Messrs. Nobel's refinery, though it is one of 
those conducted on the modern system, has the misfortune 
to be situated near the Black Town. There is a very 
marked difference between the appearance of the Black 
and White Towns ; in the second, no smoke, or hardly any, 
is seen to come out of the refinery chimneys, while in the 
former, with a few exceptions, volumes of black smoke 
are vomited forth." 

Baku, once its battered, shot-marked and scorched 
buildings are repaired, will again have those indisputable 
charms, and, better known, no one should be able to deny 



BAKU AND ITS PEOPLE. 15 

it the possession of those numerous anciently-famous and 
still glorious architectural possessions, those magnificent 
harbour lights, and the best of bays in this inland sea. 

If Baku were a deserted city, the vilest elements of 
her polyglot population gone, her ruins restored, and her 
industries silent — if one could wander through the ancient 
city alone, and behold it as it once stood, that mecca of the 
fire-worshippers, " the purest font of their sacred element " 
— it would be, not ugly, not dirty, but one of the most 
picturesque cities of Transcaucasia. I hold that if Baku 
were artificially irrigated it would excel in beauty many 
world-famous spots on the western side of the Caucasus 
and the eastern shore of the Black Sea. 

Baku, with its flat-roofed houses, is truly Asiatic ; only 
some barrack-like buildings, covered with asphalt and 
sloping sheet-iron, painted green, and the orthodox 
cathedral, with its gilded cupola, proclaim the dominion 
of Russia. Everyone who has attempted to describe Baku 
agrees that the most picturesque part is the old city with 
its Persian Citadel, the minaret and mosque, and the ruins 
of the baths of the Khans. In the old Tartar city, inter- 
sected by winding alleys, with curious, flat-roofed, window- 
less houses, in which so many murders took place in 
February and September, Tartar and Armenian mer- 
chants are wont to display their wares in front of small, 
dark shops. When I visited the bazaar the shops of the 
Armenian merchants were closed. Their owners had either 
fled or been killed on the first day of the February 
massacres. There is not an Armenian in the old Tartar 
quarter at the present time.* 

* Since the massacres the Armenian vineyards in the villages of 
Mashtagi, Mardakiany, Buzovna, and Bilga on the northern shore 
of the Apscheron Peninsula have been deserted. They were until this 



i6 BAKU. 

But, after all, the oil fields are its crowning glory ; these 
have made it what it is — the metropolis of the Caucasus 
and a city which is destined to play a still greater part in 
the industrial history of those wild parts when once it is 
fully realised in Russia that the prosperity of a nation can 
be best estimated by the extent and richness of its mineral 
resources. 

The calamity is one of unparalleled magnitude in a world- 
wide industry, but the Caucasian oil industry is not, and 
cannot be, irretrievably ruined. It will rise, phcenix-like, 
from the ashes of those wonderful oil fields and that 
anciently-famous and industrially useful city. 

summer inhabited by Baku families of average means. Some of the 
gardens and vineyards belonged to rich Armenians, who not only built 
luxurious villas but grew rare fruit trees and grapes. During the 
summer the doors and windows of the Armenian villas were nailed up, 
and the gardens and vineyards were allowed to fall into decay. A 
house and vineyard worth £'i,ooo was offered for ;^ioo, and even then 
there were no buyers. The Russians were afraid and Tartars were 
unwilling to buy, thinking that they would get everything for nothing 
in time. During September there was a great change in the value of 
real estate at Baku. A number of houses and plots in the upper 
Tartar quarter were empty, their Armenian owners having fled. 
Those who did not leave Baku went in a body to the lower quarter 
of the town ; in some parts they almost entirely displaced the house- 
holders of other nationalities, so that the lower part, marshy and 
fever-stricken, and close to Black Town, became known as the 
' Second Armenikend," an allusion to the first Armenian settlement 
at Baku. While the value of real estate and rooms in the Tartar 
quarter declined, property in the two Armenian settlements greatly 
increased in value. 



CHAPTER II. 

THE REGION OF THE ETERNAL FIRES. 

BIBLICAL REFERENCES TO OIL AND BITUMEN — OIL IN EGYPT — THE 
WELLS OF ZANTE — ALEXANDER THE GREAT AT BAKU — ONE OF 

THE EARLIEST SPOUTERS PETER'S INSTRUCTIONS TO GENERAL 

MATUSHKIN REMARKABLE PROCLAMATIONS; A COINCIDENCE 

PETER'S DESCENT ON BAKU — BAKU KHANS AND THE OIL WELLS 

— THE CULT OF FIRE WORSHIP EMPEROR HERACLIUS DESTROYS 

THE TEMPLES OF THE MAGI, BUT LEAVES THE SURAKHANI 
TEMPLE — NATURAL GAS FIRES ON THE SEA OFF BIBI-EIBAT — 
"THE SEA AS THOUGH IT WERE ON FIRE" — A TEXAS 
PHENOMENON. 

" The oil that dimly lit a shrine now illuminates an empire, 
and bids, ere long, to give light and heat to an entire 
hemisphere." 

In the brief chronicles of the " inextinguishable," or as 
they were more frequently called, the " eternal " fires at 
Surakhani, an ancient village ten miles from Baku, we have 
an epitome of the early stories of the presence of oil in the 
Apscheron Peninsula. When, twenty-five years ago, the 
priestly attendant — a Parsee from India, and the last of 
the long list of fire-worshippers reaching back 2,500 
years — died at Surakhani the oil industry at Baku was 
beginning to feel the benefit of foreign enterprise. Capital 
followed when Ludwig Nobel was able to prove the immense 
potentialities of Russian oil. 

When the light of the temple went out, Petrolia for 
Canada, Pennsylvania for America, and Bobrka for Galicia 
were supplying the world with a new light. Baku oil was 
gradually creeping into the dark places of the interior of 

B. c 



1 8 BAKU. 

mighty Russia, across the Caspian to the secret towns and 
unknown hamlets of Persia, and to the Orient, coming in 
time as a light, but never as a fuel, to our own country. 
« * * # 

Petroleum was known to the ancients, and in the earliest 
period of civilisation it was used as mortar or cement. 
References are made to it in Biblical history. In the Book 
of Maccabees we read that the Jews, when they were taken 
into captivity to Persia, hid the sacred altar fire in a well. 
On their return to Palestine with the Prophet Nehemiah the 
descendants of the Jews started a search for the sacred fire 
hidden by their ancestors, but found instead a " thick 
water," which, poured upon the heated altar stone, imme- 
diately burst into flames. The spot was surrounded, 
declared to be sacred, and was thenceforth known as " The 
purifying spot Naphthar." 

There are also the following scriptural references — 

Genesis xiv. lo — " The vale of Siddim was full of slime- 
pits." 

Deuteronomy xxxii. 1 3 — " And he made him to suck 
honey out of the rock, and oil out of the flinty rock." 

Job xxix. 6 — " And the rock poured me out rivers of 
oil." 

Micah vi. 7 — " Will the Lord be pleased with thousands 
of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil .-• " 

♦Petroleum was used by the Egyptians for embalming 

* Dr. Pettygrew, in his history of Egyptian Mummies, states that 
many of the mummies he exhumed had the cavities filled with 
asphaltum. Modern research and observation seem to confirm the 
assertion of the extensive use of petroleum in the process of embalm- 
ing. The colour, odour, and inflammability of the mummy all indicate 
the presence of petroleum. Even bodies are used by the wandering 
Arabs as fuel, and modern travellers in those regions have used them for 
the same purpose ; it was also used in the manufacture of the ancient 



THE REGION OF THE ETERNAL FIRES. 19 

and medicinal purposes. At Babylon, an asphalt-like 
material prepared from oil collected on a tributary of the 
Euphrates, a few hundred miles from Babylon, was used for 
building purposes. Some investigators think that petroleum 
entered into the composition of the famous " Greek fire " 
employed for military purposes ; this fire burned on water, 
and it was in this way that the Greeks destroyed the Russian 
war vessels during the descent of Igor on Constantinople. 

Greek and Roman writings contain numerous refer- 
ences to the use of petroleum and its derivatives as 
a fuel. 

Herodotus, 500 B.C., spoke of the oil-wells of the Island 
of Zante (often exploited for oil, but never commercially 
successful, and this year given up by an English company 
which has failed to get oil in paying quantities), and Pliny 
and Dioscondes described the oil of Agrigentum, which was 
used in lamps under the name of Sicilian oil. 

Curtius, Diodorus, Pliny, Bochart, and Josephus all speak 
of bitumen as forming part of the mighty walls, lofty towers, 

papyrus, as an agglutinant to prevent the attacks of insects and the 
corroding effects of time. Mention is made of its use in the building 
of Babylon. Herodotus says : " Digging a fosse, or ditch, the earth 
which was cast up they formed into bricks, and, desiring large ones, 
they burned them in furnaces, using for lime or mortar hot asphaltas 
or bitumen." He further relates that the bitumen was brought from 
the river, a tributary of the Euphrates. Cartwright, a traveller of the 
eighteenth century, says : " From the ruins of old Babylon we came to 
a town called Ait (the modern Heet), near unto which town is a valley 
of pitch, very marvellous to behold, and things almost incredible, 
wherein are many springs like unto tar or pitch, which serveth all the 
countries thereabouts, to make staunch their barks and boats, every 
one of which springs makes a noise like a smith's forge, which never 
ceaseth night or day, and the noise is heard a mile off." Mr. Rich, a 
Latin traveller, says : " The principal bitumen pit at Heet has two 
sources, and is divided by a wall in the centre, on one side of which 
the bitumen bubbles up and on the other the oil of naphtha." 

C 2 



20 BAKU. 

and pensile gardens of Babylon, which were one of the 
wonders of the world. After the lapse of close on thirty- 
six centuries, with all that time could accomplish in 
corroding and destroying the work of man, the remains 
of these petroleum-cemented walls and towers exist ; 
fragments of bricks with the asphaltum still clinging 
to them are still exhumed from the ruins of ancient 
cities. 

During the middle ages petroleum was utilised as a fuel, 
as a medicine, and, in the case of the petroleum of Amiano, 
as an illuminant in the streets of Genoa. Oil collected on 
the Teggern Lake in Bohemia, was known as St. Quirinus 
oil, a specific against certain ills. 

In the Caucasus there is a legend that Alexander the 
Great, while passing near the spot now occupied by Baku, 
burned a boy by drenching him with " burning water." 
Among the natives of the Apscheron Peninsula the use of 
oil for practical purposes on a fairly large scale was known 
long ago. Istarkhi, the Arabian chronicler, who lived in 
the eighth century A.D., mentions that the people of Baku, 
having no wood, prepared food by means of earth saturated 
with oil. 

According to Marco Polo, the renowned Venetian 
trader, who travelled from the Black Sea through Central 
Asia to China in the thirteenth century, petroleum was 
exported on camels to the surrounding countries, finding 
its way as far as Bagdad, where it was used as an 
illuminant. This writer refers to a prolific petroleum 
spouter which erupted in one hour " a quantity of oil 
sufficient to load up to one hundred vessels." 

Dr. Oscar Schneider states that in an old oil pit at Baku 
a stone with an Arabic inscription was found ; according 
to this the pit was worked in the year 1003 after the 



THE REGION OF THE ETERNAL FIRES. 21 

Hedjera (1600 according to our chronology), and was 
rented for that purpose from Allah Jaz, the son of 
Mohammed Nurrs. 

In my reading of ancient Russian works on the Cauccisus, 
I have been struck with the great desire Peter the Great 
displayed to take Baku from the Persians. The most 
commercial of Russian autocrats appears to have recognised 
the potentialities of the oil sources of the Apscheron. In 
1723, when the Baku Khanate passed under Russian con- 
trol, Peter gave special attention to Baku, as he believed it 
to be a suitable point for centralising the trade with the 
East. He also had an eye on its liquid mineral wealth. 
In his instructions to General Matushkin, who took Baku 
by assault, Peter wrote : " O f white petroleum send a thousand 
poods, or as much as possible, and find here a refining 
master." 

Students of Caucasian history will remember that in 
1722 Peter undertook an expedition to Persia. On the 
iSth June, same year, when he arrived at Astrakhan, he 
issued a manifesto in the Tartar, Turkish, and Persian 
languages. In this he said : — 

"Dand-Beg, Governor of the Lesgian country, and 
Surchai, Governor of the Kasi-Kumyl province, under 
the authority of His Majesty, the Most Serene, the Most 
Potent, and Most Formidable Shah of Persia, our great 
friend and neighbour, assembled in those parts many evil- 
disposed and turbulent persons of different nations, and 
rebelled against His said Majesty our friend the Shah, and 
likewise took by storm his town of Schamachi, situated in 
the province of Schirwan, and not only killed many of the 
subjects of His Majesty our friend the Shah, but also most 
wantonly and inhumanly put to death such of our Russians 



22 BAKU. 

as agreeably to treaties and ancient customs had removed 
thither for the sake of their trade, and seized their property 
and merchandise to the amount of four millions of roubles, 
and thus injured our empire, in violation of treaties and of 
the public peace. As therefore our Russian nation has 
been injured and insulted by these villains, and can obtain 
no reparation, we are compelled, after fervent prayer to our 
Lord God for victory, to march in person with our invincible 
army against the rebels, in full confidence that we shall 
bring to condign punishment those villains who have occa- 
sioned so much vexation and mischief to both parties, and 
do ourselves ample justice. For this reason we hereby give 
to all the commanders and subjects of our dear friend His 
Majesty, the Most Serene, Most Potent, and Most Formid- 
able Shah, of whatever religion and nation they may be, 
Persian and foreigners (Adshem), Armenians,^ Georgians, 
and all others residing in these parts, our most gracious 
Imperial assurance ; and it is our fixed and sincere deter- 
mination that not the slightest injury shall be done either 
to natives or foreigners in the above-mentioned provinces, 
and that no one shall harm their persons or their property, 
towns, and villages ; as we have most strictly forbidden our 
generals, officers, and other commanders, both of horse 
and foot, and the whole army in general, to do the least 
mischief to any individual ; but should any of our people 
be convicted of the smallest misdemeanour, punishment 
and execution shall instantly follow. This, however, must 
be understood to depend on this condition, that ye remain 
quietly as befits friends in your habitations, without 
removing your property. Should we find, on the contrary, 
that you take part with those atrocious robbers and supply 
them privately or publicly with money or provisions, or 
that, in spite of our gracious assurances, you quit your 



THE REGION OF THE ETERNAL FIRES. 23 

houses or villages, we shall be compelled to number you 
among our enemies, and to pursue you without mercy with 
fire and sword. You will then be put to death, and all your 
property given up to plunder. You, and you alone, will be 
to blame for this, and will have to answer for it at the 
second coming of the Lord our God." 

The italics are mine and are intended to direct atten- 
tion to a coincidence, i.e., the similarity between Peter's 
threats and one which is made in the last sentence of the 
following proclamation printed in Baku and dated 
August 25th, this year — 

" Military, including artillery, are arriving. All houses 
from which shots have been fired have been noted ; the 
owners, managers and occupiers of these houses will be 
dealt with as persons responsible for these shots, and losses 
sustained owing to shooting will be charged up to them. 
Therefore, I caution you that everyone guilty in future of 
such criminal actions as shooting from houses and roofs 
will be dealt with in a similar manner. Those who, in any 
way whatever, interfere with the military or trouble the 
inhabitants will receive no mercy whatever. — (Signed) 
Lieut.-General Fadeiev, Governor-General, pro tern." 

On the i8th of July the Emperor sailed from Astrakhan 
with a fleet of 442 vessels, and at the head of an army of 
22,000 regular troops and 5,000 seamen. The whole of 
the force destined for this expedition is said to have 
amounted to 106,000 men, as it consisted of 22,000 infantry, 
20,000 Cossacks, 30,000 Tartars, 20,000 Calmucks, 9,000 
cavalry and 5,000 sailors. After fighting several battles, 
on the 23rd of August, 1722, the Emperor made his entry 
into Derbent, the governor of which had voluntarily 



24 BAKU. 

surrendered the city. The attempts to take Baku had not, 
however, proved so successful, and the Emperor set out on 
his return to Astrakhan at the beginning of September. 
In 1723 General Matushkim, ordered to possess himself of 
Baku, bombarded it, and was preparing to assault, when, on 
July 26th, the gates were opened to him. (At the time I 
am writing this chapter soldiers are making their way down 
to the Caspian and the Vladicaucasian Railway to put an 
end to the violence and bloodshed and stifle the fires of 
insurrection in the Caucasus. — AUTHOR.) 

To make the story historically complete I should say 
that in 1735, under the reign of Empress Anna, Baku was 
restored to Persia, and that it was only in 18 13 that the 
city was once more, and that finally, secured to Russia. 

Lerche, who visited Baku in 1735, writes — " At 
Balakhani there were fifty-two oil wells, which were a 
great source of wealth. The oil from the wells is collected 
in large and deep stone-made ponds and carted to Baku 
in large leather bags. The oil is used in all houses as a 
fuel (all houses are blackened by the dense smoke) and as 
a remedy for rheumatics and skin diseases, while, used 
internally, it cured gravel. It is quite likely that the fact 
that the Black Death did not touch Baku was due to the 
presence of petroleum." 

At the time of his visit the oil wells, which produced a 
total of 1,500 to 3,500 tons per annum (against about 
10,000,000 tons last year), were a great source of income to 
the Baku Khans, who leased them to contractors. The oil 
was chiefly burned in clay lamps and used for lubricating 
the axles of arbas (heavy two-wheeled vehicles). The 
unrefined crude was also used on the Kuban and Terek 
along the northern slope of the Caucasus. 



THE REGION OF THE ETERNAL FIRES. 25 

The Apscheron Peninsula with its " eternal " fires early 
attracted the attention of the aborigines of the East, who 
considered them manifestations of the Deity. 

Fire worshippers existed in the sixth century B.C., 
and the "eternal" fires of Baku were employed by 
Zoroaster (thought to have been a native of the north- 
eastern slope of the Caucasian ridge) in the building up of 
his teaching about light and fire and the cult of fire worship. 
For many centuries the followers of Zoroaster worshipped 
before the fires in temples, which existed down to A.D. 
624. In that year, according to Gibbon, Emperor 
Heraclius during his campaign against the Persians win- 
tered in the steppes at the mouth of the Kura, ten miles 
south of Baku. There, Gibbon says, he signalised the zeal 
and revenge of a Christian emperor ; at his command the 
soldiers extinguished the fire and destroyed the temples of 
the Magi. Twelve years later (A.D. 636) Persia was 
vanquished a second time by the Arabs, who at the edge 
of the sword converted the people from fire worship to the 
Mussulman faith. Large numbers fled to Ormus, thence 
to India and gave origin to what are now the Parsees of 
Bombay. These Parsees of Guebrs frequently made 
pilgrimages to the Apscheron Peninsula. The temples of 
the Guebrs have been regularly visited by fire worshippers 
from India, Persia, and, it is alleged, from time to time by 
pilgrims from Lithuania, 

The temples existed until quite recently. To-day only 
one remains — the one to which I have referred as being a 
few miles from Baku, in the village of Surakhani, and near 
the old Kokorev refinery owned by the Baku Oil Company. 

In 1879, this, the last of the Pagan shrines, was threat- 
ened with destruction, when the Government, to the dismay 
of its votaries, granted the Transcaspian the concession for 



26 BAKU. 

exploiting the natural gas sources of the district. It is now 
deserted. 

The first reference to the oil sources and eternal fires of 
Baku by a European scientist was made by the acade- 
mician Kampfer, who visited the Apscheron Peninsula in 
the beginning of the seventeenth century. He was 
followed a few years afterwards by Hanway, Hmelin and 
Lerche. 

Jonas Hanway who stayed at Baku in 1754, stated that 
ten miles to the north-east of Baku, on a dry, rocky plain, 
there were old shrines or temples, built of rock, and used 
in ancient times for fire worship ; one of these, he said, 
continued to serve as a shrine for worship on the part of 
Hindoo pilgrims. Near the temple in the fissure of a low 
boulder was a longitudinal opening, 6 ft. 3 ins., from 
which continuously issued a flame resembling in colour 
and intensity the flame of a spirit lamp, but much purer. 
In windy weather the flame at times rose to a height of 
eight feet, but in calm weather it was much lower. Accord- 
ing to Hanway the Indian fire worshippers who flocked to 
Baku had a tradition that the eternal fire had flamed ever 
since the Flood and that it would last to the end of the 
world. 

Hmelin, the Russian academician, who visited Baku in 
1 77 1, mentioned that the local fire worshippers are 
descendants of the old Guebrs. He says : — " They honour 
this inextinguishable fire as something most sacred and as 
a manifestation of a deity which could not manifest itself 
to human beings in a purer or more perfect medium than 
fire or liquid ; or, in other words, in a medium which is of 
such great purity that it can be no more classified amongst 
materia! bodies. To gain salvation these devotees come 
from India to the eternal fires of Baku and there conduct 



THE REGION OF THE ETERNAL FIRES. 27 

their supplicatory devotions before the Eternal Being in 
such a touching manner that they give one an impression 
quite different from the one generally held regarding 
idolators. Round the spot where the eternal fire burns 
they have erected vaulted temples ranging in height from 
12ft. to 20ft." 

In 1 845 Prof Beresin, describing the fires, said : — " At 
the eastern termination of the Caucasian range, ten miles 
from Baku, and near the village of Surakhani, jets of 
inflammable gas issue from the porous, shelly limestone. 
In the day time these fires are not particularly striking, 
but at night, when they illuminate the gloomy and deserted 
neighbourhood, the picture changes, and, behold, the simple 
temple of the fire worshippers becomes a fairy castle. 
Multi-coloured tongues of fire dance weirdly in the winds. 
Tongues of fire are carried away by the breeze, but at the 
points which they leave there spring up flames of greater 
brilliancy. It is not surprising that the imagination of 
Easterners should be played upon by a spectacle of such 
rare beauty and grandeur and that these fire worshippers 
should credit these eternal fires with a mysterious 
and supernatural significance. We must remember that 
Easterners are not the only ones who have indulged in 
fire worship ; as a matter of fact there is scarcely a country 
in the world that has not had its fire worshippers." 

Emanations of natural gas are still observed at many 
points around Baku. They are not entirely confined to 
the mainland, but are also observed in the Caspian Sea. 
If burning tow is thrown into the sea, half-an-hour's row 
from the headland at Bibi-Eibat, an immediate ignition of 
natural gas bubbling up from the bottom is observed, the 
flames spreading over a considerable area. Only the wind 
and waves are capable of extinguishing the fire, which is a 



28 BAKU. 

most interesting spectacle, especially at night time. These 
phenomena are observable in the sea near other oil fields. 
Just outside the Sabine Pass, close to the coast line of the 
Texas oil fields, which I visited during the Spindle Top 
boom (1901) gas bubbles up on the surface of the sea. 
Sir Boverton Redwood, in his standard work on the 
technology of petroleum, has described this phenomenon 
in Texas, while the travellers who have referred to the fires 
on the sea at Baku are Mr. Arthur Arnold (writing in 1875, 
when he was M.P, for Salford), Mr. Augustus Mounsey 
(connected with the British Embassy at Vienna), Mr. 
Marvin, Mr. Edmund O'Donovan {Daily News corre- 
spondent), and Mr. Osmaston. Mr. Osmaston wrote : — 
' One of the sailors threw out a piece of lighted tow, and 
after one or two ineffectual attempts the waves were wrapt 
for several yards in flame. It was quite dusk, so we saw 
it beautifully. It was a most extraordinary sight ; the sea 
as though it were on fire ; a patch of bright flame burning 
upon its cold bosom. Setting the Thames on fire one had 
heard of, but I never thought I should really witness the 
sea in a blaze. We rowed round it, and then away, but 
the flame could be seen dancing up and down with the 
waves till we had gone nearly a mile distant. The wind 
then blew stronger and extinguished it, for it suddenly 
disappeared. There are several other spots in the Caspian 
where naphtha gas bubbles up in the same way." 



CHAPTER III. 

THE DAWN OF THE RUSSIAN OIL INDUSTRY (1813). 

rulers of baku and the oil pits — arbitrary proceedings — 

contract system started — crown revenue from oil 

Humboldt's estimate of eighty-two pits in 1839 — 1833-1840 

PRODUCTION statistics — HALF OF THE OUTPUT SENT TO 
PERSIA — REICHENBACH's EXPERIMENTS IN 183O — PHOTOGEN 
WORKS ERECTED BY LIEBICH AT SURAKHANI — THE 1863-1873 

PERIOD — MELIKOV'S REFINERY AT BAKU FIRST AUCTIONS AT 

BAKU FOLLOWED BY THE IMPOSITION OF NEW TAXES — PRO- 
TECTION AGAINST AMERICAN COMPETITION — THE FIRST MACHINE- 
DRILLED WELL MIRZOIEV'S RECORD. 

The final acquisition of the Baku Khanate, by the 
Gulistan treaty concluded with Persia October nth, 1813, 
marked a turning-point in the history of the Russian 
petroleum industry. A start was made to develop it on 
commercial lines. The Crown Department of the Georgian 
Government, the highest government institution in the 
Caucasus of that time, finding that all the pits, with the 
exception of two, were the property of Hussin, the former 
ruler of Baku, confiscated and leased them to a contractor 
for £13,000 per annum, which was then considered an 
appreciable item in the revenue of this Caucasian Govern- 
ment. The two wells not confiscated were on the private 
property of the Selimkhanovs at Bibi-Eibat. The owners 
had, however, to deliver the oil produced, some 174 tons 
per annum, to the Crown at 18J copecks per pood 
(roughly 22j. ^d. per ton) . 

In order to increase its income from the petroleum 
industry, the production of crude from shallow wells, and 



30 



BAKU. 



its sale for illuminating purposes, the Crown attempted to 
work it as a monopoly, but did not meet with success ; as 
a matter of fact, in 1825, when the Crown took over the 
wells, the revenue from this source declined from 3^13,000 
to £7fioo, and it was decided to revert to the contract 
system. The contract system lasted till 1872, when it was 
abolished. The Crown revenue for this period never 
exceeded 3^15,000 per annum, while consumers were com- 
pelled to pay the contractors high prices. The sole 
measure of protection adopted by the Crown in the con- 
sumer's interest was a rule making it impossible for 
contractors to charge more than forty-six copecks per pood 
for crude. 

In these days the production of crude was small. 
According to A. Humboldt, the famous traveller, there 
were only eighty-two pits in 1829. In 1850 there were in 
the whole of the province of Shemakha some 1 36 petroleum 
pits, with an aggregate output of 5,436 tons, but by 1872 
the number had increased to 415 and the production to 
22,581 tons. Between 1834 and 1849, when the oil pits 
were worked by the Government, the output remained 
more or less stationary, as is shown in the following 
table :— 



1832 . 


. 150,000 poods. r84i . 


. 212,117 poods. 


1833 • 


. 180,000 , 


, 1842 . 


• 215,142 „ 


1834 . 


. 230,091 , 


1843 • 


. 212,919 „ 


183s • 


• 237,479 , 


1844 • 


• 213,503 „ 


1836 . 


. 228,604 , 


1845 • 


• 212,779 ,. 


1837 • 


• 230,538 , 


, 1846 . 


• 215,650 „ 


1838 . 


■• 233,915 , 


1847 ■ 


. 216,318 „ 


1839 . 


■ 234,950 , 


1848 . 


■ 269,769 „ 


1840 . 


. 221,032 , 


, 1849 • 


. 207,029 „ 



The oil, obtained by primitive methods (pits), was almost 
exclusively used in its crude state, principally for household 



DAWN OF RUSSIAN OIL INDUSTRY. 31 

use, for illuminating purposes and the oiling of leather, 
wheels and horse trappings, as a cattle dip, &c. Small 
as the production was, it was impossible to consume the 
bulk on the spot.^and about half of the production had 
to be exported to Persia. 

The extent of the home consumption as well as of the 
exports to Persia always depended on the price fixed by 
the Government for the crude. In 1825 the price was 
thirty-five copecks per pood delivered at Baku ; in 1839 
the Government fixed the price at thirty-five at the pits, 
but in 1846 the Caspian Government Board received the 
permission of Prince Vorontzov, Viceroy of the Caucasus 
and ancestor of the present Viceroy, to raise the price 
to forty copecks and to forty-five copecks a year later. 
The effect of the increased price was to reduce the sale 
of crude at Baku, and to cause home as well as Persian 
consumers to secure oil of better quality from the 
Turcomans of Tcheleken at a cheaper price. The revenue 
declining, the Viceroy sanctioned in 1848 a reduction to 
forty copecks of the price for exported oil, retaining the 
forty-five copecks price for home consumed oil, the object 
being to weaken by this compromise the Tcheleken 
competition. This measure also failed to improve matters, 
and from 1850 to its final abolition in 1873, the Govern- 
ment stuck to the contract system. The contracts 
generally being for four years only, the contractors, of 
course, did not care to increase their output by the invest- 
ment of large sums of money, but preferred to extract 
from the ground all they could get at the least expense 
possible, without troubling about improvements or questions 
of proper management. 

Thus matters dragged on, the high price of the crude 
preventing its wider application till 1 860, when a start was 



32 BAKU. 

made with the extraction of illuminating oil from the crude 
by the Transcaspian Company. 

Reichenbach's successful experiments in 1830 in the 
extraction of photogen from peat, boghead and similar 
materials in Germany, drew the attention of enterprising 
Russians to the extensive deposit of kir, the asphalt-like 
hydrocarbon found in many parts of the Caucasus. In 
1858 Messrs. Kokorev and Gubonin, trading as the 
Transcaspian Trading Company, erected works for the 
extraction of photogen from the local kir at Surakhani, 
close to the Temple of Fire Worshippers, in order that they 
might be able to use the natural gas as a fuel free of cost. 
These works were built according to plans furnished by 
Liebich, a German chemist, who sent his assistant to super- 
vise the erection and starting of the works. It was soon 
found, however, that kir, which only contained from 
15 per cent, or 20 per cent, of heavy oils, was not suited 
for the purpose it was intended for. Just as unsuccessful 
were two other works erected outside the Baku region at 
the same time and for the same purpose — the production 
of photogen, solar oils and paraffin scale. One of these, 
erected near Tver, was intended for the exploitation of the 
village peat deposits of the province of Tver ; the other was 
erected by Witte and Company on the Holy Island (east 
of the Apscheron Peninsula) for the dry distillation of 
ozokerit, which yielded 68 per cent, of paraffin scale and 
8 per cent, of oil. Both works were soon closed. 

In 1859 petroleum sources were discovered in the 
United States. Oil was sold as an illuminant, not in 
its crude state, but distilled, and refined by chemical 
re-agents. The demand for petroleum distillate increased 
with incredible rapidity. As the output increased, the 
new products became cheaper, and this in a still greater 



DAWN OF RUSSIAN OIL INDUSTRY. 33 

measure contributed to their popularity, enabling the 
illuminating materials extracted from oil to come into 
successful competition with photogen. Experiments 
carried out at the Kokorev-Gubonin works with crude 
petroleum as the raw material gave excellent results 
and led to a complete reconstruction of the refinery. 
The management was entrusted to Mr. Eichler, a well- 
known Moscow chemist, who succeeded in obtaining a 
light coloured product by the introduction of a new 
process of chemical refining. This was the origin of the 
first kerosene refinery near Baku. In 1863 they started to 
forward barrelled oil to the inland markets of Russia and 
succeeded in ousting American kerosene from centres to 
which the oil could be delivered at a reasonable cost, such 
as the Volga region. The example set by this firm was 
soon followed by others, and near the end of the sixties 
the refinery branch of the industry was firmly established 
in the Apscheron Peninsula. 

The late Mr. V. Ragosine recognised the great service 
rendered to the industry by the Transcaspian Trading 
Company ; thanks to the enterprise of Messrs. Kokorev 
and Gubonin, he says, the 1863-1873 decade marked the 
first appearance of vigorous life in the petroleum industry. 

In 1863 Melikov erected the first refinery in Baku. 
About ten years after the erection of this refinery there 
were about twenty-three kerosene refineries in and near 
Baku. These were on a small scale, and, their total 
production being under 8,065 ^°^^ P^"" annum, the 
Americans continued to supply the Russian markets 
with the bulk of the kerosene required. 

Near the end of the sixties an agitation having for its 
object the abolition of the contract system in the exploita- 
tion of the oil fields of the Crown was started. The system 

B. D 



34 BAKU. 

was blamed by men like Prof. Mendeleiev for the 
slow advance of the home petroleum industry. The Crown 
was not sufficiently benefited by the contract system, and 
it expected to draw a larger revenue from the Baku oil 
fields by changing it. In the half century which elapsed 
between 1821 and 1872 it only cleared from its oil proper- 
ties ;^474,3ii, this sum for a considerable period also 
including the salt revenue, petroleum and salt being treated 
as one item in the contract tenders. For the final ten years 
of the contract system the Crown received less than it 
subsequently cleared in one year after the system had 
been abolished and the lands leased out by public auction, 
and, that too, quite apart from indirect revenue from the 
rapidly developing industry. 

Thp extent to which the contract system checked the 
development of the oil fields is seen from the statistics of 
production. In 1829 there were only twenty-eight pits, 
while in 1872 there were 415 pits and two steam-drilled 
wells. In 1825 the production of crude amounted to 
3,387 tons, in 1850 to 4,194 tons, in 1863 to 4,839 tons, and 
in 1872 to 22,500 tons. The contract system produced in 
forty years about 274,194 tons, while some 2,580,645 tons 
were obtained in the first ten years, and 29,032,258 tons in 
the second ten years following upon the abolition of the 
contract system. At the present time, thirty years after 
the petroleum industry was freed from this system, the 
production averages about 10,483,871 tons. 

In 1867 a commission was appointed to prepare draft 
regulations relating to the petroleum industry and the 
excise on the photogen production. The regulations were 
confirmed on February 1st, 1872, and became operative on 
January ist, 1873. The industry was declared free, and 
the petroliferous Crown properties were leased by public 



DAWN OF RUSSIAN OIL INDUSTRY. 35 

auction for a single payment and for a yearly rental of ten 
roubles per dessiatine (5^. 81^. per acre) for the surface use 
of the plots ; at the expiration of 24 years, this rental was 
to be increased to 100 roubles per dessiatine (56J. Bd. per 
acre). Some 1,240 dessiatines were put up to auction, 
including about 1,053 acres in the Government of Baku, 
these, again, only including 418 acres at Balakhani. All 
properties at which there were pits were sectioned into 
groups of twenty-seven acres each and valued according to 
the production of the pits at the time and the prices of the 
oil from ;^i to a few hundred pounds per group. Although 
the total value of the properties was fixed at ;^5 5,200, new 
concerns, labouring under the impression that the plots 
put up to auction were the only petroliferous areas available, 
outbid one another and raised prices to incredibly high 
figures. 

Thus, for groups valued at one rouble tens of thousands 
were offered and for those valued at ;^I00 hundreds of 
thousands were offered. The three chief groups, valued at 
;^24,400, fetched ;£■ 169,800. Altogether the Crown obtained 
;^298,ooo for all the forty-eight offered. The chief buyers 
were Mirzoiev and Kokorev and Gubonin. Mirzoiev paid 
close on ;^ 122,000 for forty dessiatines at Balakhani and 
the last two ;f 132,300 for sixty dessiatines. The Mirzoiev 
enterprise as well as the Kokorev and Gubonin firm, 
subsequently transformed into the Baku Oil Company, 
met with only slight success, and the striking of oil on 
other lands completely destroyed the plans of the pro- 
moters. Simultaneously with the abolition of the contract 
system, a kerosene excise arrangement was put into opera- 
tion on a most imperfect basisi Refiners were charged 
according to the capacity of their stills, a system which, 
depending on the degree of perfection of the distilling 

D 2 



36 BAKU. 

process, resulted in a most unequal taxation of the final 
product, amounting on the average from fifteen to twenty- 
five copecks per pood of kerosene. Owing to these excise 
anomalies the refining industry failed to develop as 
smoothly as the producing industry. The kerosene excise 
was most unevenly distributed amongst the diiTerent 
refiners. The excise revenue was very small. In 1873 it 
only amounted to ;£'20,366, in 1874 to ;^28,022, in 1875 
to £21,076, and in 1876 to £2<j,gii. The Government, on 
a petition submitted by the petrokum producers (Sep- 
tember 17th, 1877), temporarily abolished the tax on 
kerosene. No sooner was the excise abolished than the 
petroleum industry made rapid progress. 

The consumption of kerosene increased. There was also 
an increase in exports, and prices dropped as the result of 
inland competition and an abundant production. The 
combination of these conditions, and especially the drop in 
prices (from 60-80 to 20-30 copecks per pood), which took 
place during ten years following the abolition of the excise, 
caused the Government, at the time on the look out for 
new sources of revenue, to re-impose the excise on 
kerosene, and in 1 888 it levied a tax of forty copecks per 
pood on ordinary kerosene and thirty copecks per pood on 
the heavy grades (higher flash point), on condition, how- 
ever, that there should be no tax on benzine, lubricating 
oils, crude oil, astatki, and all petroleum products exported. 
Near the end of 1892 the taxes were increased to sixty and 
fifty copecks per pood, and a few changes were made in 
connection with the classification of heavy illuminating oil 
paying the lower rates, but generally the impost remained 
as before. The re-imposition of the excise, although it 
slightly reduced the rate of expansion of the industry, 
could not, however, cause serious injury, because kerosene 



DAWN OF RUSSIAN OIL INDUSTRY, n 

had already secured a wide and expanding market at 
a time when prices were even higher than after the 
re-imposition of the tax. 

Simultaneously with the imposition of the excise tax 
(1872), imported kerosene was subjected to an import duty 
of fifty-five copecks (paper money) per pood, and still 
greater protection was afforded the home industry in 1877 
by stipulating for the payment of duties in gold currency. 
This measure was one of far-reaching importance, especially 
when viewed in connection with the rapid drop of prices 
which occurred in America as well as in Russia. Without 
Customs protection the home industry, then in the first 
stage of development, would have been crushed out of 
existence by American competition, and this would have 
been easy because the Americans had secured a firm 
footing on the Russian markets at a time when the home 
industry was in embryo. In the 1865-1875 period, the 
imports of American kerosene averaged from 24,194 tons 
to 40,323 tons per annum ; between 1876 and 1879 about 
32,258 tons per annum; between 1880 and 1882 about 
16,129 tcSns per annum ; while in 1883 the imports only 
amounted to 7,419 tons. Since then the imports have not 
only ceased, but there has been a steadily growing export 
of Russian oil to foreign markets. The high import duties 
imposed to encourage a home industry have served their 
purpose, and, when the industry was no longer in need of 
protection against outside competition, it was retained, 
firstly, with a view to preventing the import of oil into the 
frontier regions situated at a distance from the Caucasus, 
and, secondly, in order to protect the revenue derived by 
the Exchequer from home-produced kerosene. 

The first attempt to drill with the aid of machinery was 
made by a Mr. Novossilitzev in the Kuban region during 



38 BAKU, 

the middle of the sixties. Having leased from the Kuban 
Cossacks extensive areas and secured several freehold plots, 
Novossiltzev commenced to prospect by means of trial 
wells. The result was the bringing in of the first spouter 
at Kudako, which induced Novossiltzev to build the 
Fanagori refinery ; but the extraordinary energy displayed 
in the production and treatment of petroleum did not meet 
with the success anticipated, largely owing to shortage of 
working capital. In the Baku region the Transcaspian 
Trading Company (now the Baku Oil Company) applied 
in 1866 to the Government for permission to start 
drilling work, but met with a refusal. It is quite prob- 
able that this refusal was prompted by the opinion of 
Abich, who had investigated the Apscheron Peninsula 
on behalf of the Government three years previously, 
and arrived at the conclusion that the drilling rig could 
not be of any benefit to the petroleum industry. The 
first to actually complete a well in 1871 was Mirzoiev, 
who was also the owner of the second well started in 1872. 
Drilling proceeded at a speed which surprised the natives. 
The advantages of the new method were soon evident, the 
first prolific spouter, which yielded a few million poods . of 
oil in a very short period, having been brought in from 
the depth of 122 ft. At the end of 1873, there were 
seventeen steam-drilled wells ; in 1874, fifty ; in 1875, sixty- 
five ; and in 1876, lOi, when the hand-dug pit became a 
thing of the past. 



CHAPTER IV. 

THE PHOTOGEN INDUSTRY IN THE CAUCASUS. 

BARON TORNAU ARRIVES AT BAKU — THE GOVERNMENT GRANT IMPOR- 
TANT PRIVILEGES — FIRST WORKS NEAR THE ETERNAL FIRES — 
TORNAU-EICHLER EXPERIMENTS — SHIPOWNERS REFUSE TO CARRY 
SULPHURIC ACID — " PHOTONAPHTHIL " A FAILURE — PARAFFIN 
PLANT ERECTED ON HOLY ISLAND — FIRST REFINERY IN BAKU 
(1863) — ENGLISH CAUSTIC SODA SOLD AT BAKU — THE STRUGGLES 
OF MELIKOV — BATTLES WITH THE EXCISE — THE LUBRICATING 
OIL INDUSTRY — THE ORIGIN OF BLACK TOWN. 

Half-way through the fifties, when the photogen fever 
was at its height in Germany, Baron Tornau decided to 
start a photogen factory in Russia. He selected Baku, 
where he knew the natives mined a product resembling 
the bituminous materials from which photogen was being 
extracted in Germany. This product, locally known as 
kir, was obtainable for a trifle, and, what was more, the 
Eternal Fires, which he desired to use for fuel, were close 
at hand. At about the same time a sound enterprise, the 
Transcaspian Trading Company, was formed by Messrs. 
Kokorev and Gubonin in St. Petersburg to extend Russian 
trade with Persia and the Turcomans on the eastern shore 
of the Caspian. 

The Government was most anxious to assist, and granted 
many important privileges. Baron Tornau submitted to 
the company his scheme for the erection of photogen 
works and for supplying Persia with illuminating oil. 
The scheme was taken up, and the first photogen works 
were erected on a thirty-two acre plot near the Temple of 



40 BAKU. 

Eternal Fires. The originators of the scheme never gave 
a thought to the possibility of extracting illuminating oil 
from petroleum, and kir only was to provide the raw 
material. Liebich, the famous chemist, furnished the plans 
and working drawings designed on the system adopted by 
the German makers of photogen from shale. This plant 
consisted of horizontal cast iron retorts, in which the raw 
material was submitted to a preliminary distillation, and 
of a second set of stills in which the distillates obtained 
were re-distilled. To supervise the building of the works, 
and especially the mounting of the plant and exploitation 
of the natural gas sources, Liebich sent Moldenhauer, 
his assistant, in 1858. Moldenhauer started with the 
erection of the works in the following year, but owing to 
the plant having to be ordered abroad, and the difficulties 
of transport, the works were not completed before i860, 
while the first marketable product was not turned out 
before 1861. Moldenhauer had in the meantime been 
experimenting, and at the very outset — in 1859 — showed 
that photogen from kir, although better than shale oil, was 
of a too heavy specific gravity, and, besides, that the yield 
did not exceed from fifteen to twenty per cent, of the raw 
material treated. His experiments, lasting the whole of 
1859, never went beyond his laboratory, and kir photogen 
was never placed on the market in quantity. He then 
thought of experimenting with crude petroleum obtained 
from the Balakhani and other pits in quantities which were 
considered at that time to be extraordinary. The result 
exceeded his most sanguine anticipations. The distillate 
was perfectly clear, ready for immediate use, and, what was 
of even greater importance, the yield was much higher than 
from kir. Moldenhauer, after constructing gas holders for 
collecting the natural gas, returned to Germany in i860. 




TIFIJS, lAI-ITAI- nF THE KEF. 



. CAICASU^ 




THE FAMUl'S GKORGFAN IKlAIf. IN THE HFART OF THE CAUCASL'S. 

(Fro:ii Mr. A. W. Eu-tlakc s unique c.lkctioii of Russian photos) 



[7)> /nw /.,-v 40. 



PHOTOGEN INDUSTRY IN THE CAUCASUS. 41 

In i860 Eichler arrived at the Surakhani works. The 
company had almost disposed of its enterprise and was 
practically on the point of abandoning it when Eichler 
proposed to Baron Tornau, the manager of the company, to 
drop the production of photogen from kir and, taking 
advantage of Moldenhauer's laboratory experiments, extract 
illuminating oil from petroleum. Tornau gave Eichler a 
free hand in the matter of the raw material as long as he 
obtained a good and cheap oil. A short time previous to 
his departure, Moldenhauer, delighted with his petroleum 
photogen, which he considered would do without refining, 
filled it into tins which he soldered up, and sent a small 
quantity for sale at Tiflis, at eight roubles per pood 
(roughly 3J. lod. per gallon). On arrival at Tiflis it was 
found that the oil which was clear when forwarded was 
gradually becoming darker and finally turned a dark brown. 
This led to the first scientific analysis of Caucasian illumi- 
nating oil. Returned to the works for investigation, the 
oil came into the hands of Eichler, Moldenhauer having 
returned to Germany. He found in the oil a high per- 
centage of iron in the form of various combinations with 
organic acids, chiefly with formic, acetic and other homo- 
logues of the fatty . series, and his analysis proved that 
unrefined photogen contained organic acids, which acted on 
iron, and must, therefore, be neutralised. Neutralising 
these acids, he obtained a better oil, and one which neither 
attacked iron, nor changed colour, but suffered from the 
drawback of slightly carbonising the wick, which indicated 
the presence of free alkali in the oil. This he eliminated 
by washing with a weak solution of hydrochloric acid. 

He obtained a product which burned fairly well in the 
lamp, but was of yellow colour. While there was no com- 
petition, the colour did not matter much until 1863, when 



42 BAKU. 

the first shipment of American oil arrived in Russia. The 
American petroleum-photogen was a light grade, absolutely 
clear oil, burning perfectly in the lamp. The Surakhani 
product would no longer do, and Eichler had to find a 
better method of refining and decolorising his oil. After 
trying different chemicals he selected sulphuric acid of 
60° Be., which, besides destroying all coloring matter, 
also had the effect of eliminating the penetrating odour 
peculiar to unrefined illuminating oil. To procure the 
sulphuric acid he required was not an easy matter ; it was 
impossible to get it from Astrakhan, the shipowners refusing 
to carry such a dangerous cargo, and he was compelled to 
obtain his supply from England by way of Poti, on the 
Black Sea shore, and cart it 530 miles across the Caucasus. 
In consideration of the heavy expense this transport in- 
volved it was not surprising that the acid at the works 
never cost less than 10 roubles per pood (over ^3 a cwt.). 
The soda he required he extracted on the spot from sea- 
weeds. The resultant solution of caustic soda of 38° Be. 
he used without any further dilution. The oil refined, first 
with strong sulphuric acid, and then with weak caustic soda, 
was once more washed with weak solution of sulphuric or 
hydrochloric acid and allowed to settle. The first small 
lot of photogen was sent to Tiflis ; the shipments to Russia 
proper only started in 1863, or, properly speaking, in 1864. 
Illuminating oil from petroleum being at that time a new 
product, Moldenhauer and Eichler decided on giving it a 
name that would sufficiently distinguish it from photogen 
(meaning, in Greek, Lightgiver\, the bitumen product. 
They adopted " photonaphthil," a combination of three 
Greek words meaning " Light of the petroleum substance." 
Under this designation they sent their oil to Russia, but 
for some time found a difficulty in placing it, the consumer 



PHOTOGEN INDUSTRY IN THE CAUCASUS. 43 

only knowing of the existence of photogen and kerosene 
(an American-coined word) and, being entirely ignorant of 
what " photonaphthil " might be, refused to buy it. The 
new designation never caught on. 

Soon after the erection of the Surakhani works, Messrs. 
Witte & Company put up an extensive paraffin plant on 
Holy Island, facing the eastern extremity of the Apscheron 
Peninsula. The works extracted paraffin scale from 
ozokerit procured from Tcheleken. The stills yielded 
68 per cent, of distillate consisting of 60 per cent, of scale, 
and 8 per cent, of a light brown illuminating oil. The 
liquid was first heated with steam to 6o°C. and then mixed 
with I per cent, of sulphuric acid. Mixing was continued 
till the froth turned a perfect white, when burnt lime was 
added and the whole re-distilled. The first fractions 
collected represented a perfectly colourless liquid of 
0.750-0.810 specific gravity and of a fairly agreeable 
ethereal odour. Near the end of the distillation the 
colour was deteriorating. The first ten to thirteen 
gallons were collected separately and used as a solvent in 
refining the scale. 

The owners of the Surakhani and Holy Island works 
jealously guarded their secrets, but these leaked out, 
and the first refinery in Baku town was erected in 1863 
by an unknown and uneducated Armenian, Djevat Melikov, 
a former employe at the Witte works. His proposal to 
erect a petroleum distilling plant met with universal 
ridicule, and friends and foes described him as a 
lunatic. Gradually, however, his perseverance carried the 
day, and he succeeded in forming a small company of 
three with a share capital of £^0, with which, of course, he 
could not erect an extensive plant, but only mounted a 
still fitted with a cooler under the open sky. A jeering 



44 BAKU. 

crowd collected to see the primitive works, but a few hours 
afterwards, when they saw the pure and transparent 
photogen drawn off from the cooler, their doubts and 
ridicule ceased, and Melikov became the lion of those 
parts. 

Another company, with a larger capital (;^200), was 
immediately formed, and the management entrusted to 
Melikov. No sooner, however, had they learned, or thought 
they had learned, how to produce photogen than they 
found reasons why they should get rid of the inventor. 
Melikov then gave himself up with renewed energy to 
the extraction of scale from ozokerit. In this he failed, 
firstly, because there was no ice at Baku, and also because 
the business required much more capital than the scanty 
funds at his disposal. That Melikov was looked upon as 
a lunatic is not surprising. He did not look for gain, and 
he gave up his last penny without one thought of the future. 
He longed to see the materialisation of his ideas, and his 
end — poverty — was about the same as that of most inven- 
tors of his class. He induced Mirzoiev to take advantage 
of the Grosny oil sources and to erect a refinery for supply- 
ing the Northern Caucasus with illuminating oil. He 
erected the refinery, but was once more imposed upon 
and done out of his dues. This pioneer of Baku's refining 
industry died in abject poverty, while his partners and 
employers made fortunes in the production of illuminating 
oils. 

Notwithstanding the simplicity of the method the 
photogen industry developed slowly. The reason was 
the existence of the contract system and the high price 
of crude. For this reason only a few refineries were built 
during the first half of the sixties. Working more or less in 
the dark, they generally tried to get hold of workmen from 



PHOTOGEN INDUSTRY IN THE CAUCASUS. 45 

the Surakhani works and from these they gleaned much 
valuable information. They soon ascertained that photo- 
gen must be refined with acid and alkali. The acid they 
obtained from Moscow, but of soda they had no definite 
conception and were led to try and replace it, some with 
sea water and some with ordinary salt water. By this 
means the product was not improved. 

Mirzoiev,-the contractor, was all-powerful, and although 
not a refiner himself, but only a buyer of refined, he fixed 
prices for crude and products at Nizhni Fair and would not 
tolerate competition. In order to secure a still firmer grip 
on the industry he started to build a large refinery. He 
bought a small photogen property from Grikurovj this 
consisted of a still taking a seventy-pood charge, and one 
which had cost Grikurov £jo. He ordered ten new stills 
from Moscow, but these proved useless, because they were 
made of copper and soldered with tin. He ordered from 
abroad six more stills capable of taking a charge of fifty 
poods each, and at about the same time he commenced to 
build his Surakhani works at which he hoped to make use 
of the Eternal Fires. 

A year or two later, Mr. Weiser, a former mechanic 
at the Witte works, erected a photogen refinery working 
upon an improved method. At this time English caustic 
soda, known in Baku as English potash, was delivered 
for the first time in Baku. This, properly speaking, marked 
the period when the more or less rational refining of 
photogen began. The secret of the refining methods soon 
became universally known, and in 1869 there were twenty- 
three refineries in existence. Of these twenty could hardly 
handle one hundred poods a day. 

Two or three months after the abolition of the contract 
system the number of petroleum refineries increased at such 



46 BAKU. 

a rate that dwelling houses were converted into oil works. 
As these used crude as fuel and did not attempt to obtain 
perfect combustion, the whole town lay under a cover 
of soot and smoke. The residents protested against this 
nuisance ; the local authorities prohibited the building 
of new refineries, and closed the existing ones, giving the 
refiners permission to erect new buildings on a special 
reservation about one and a half miles outside the town. 
Work was in full swing at the reservation during the 
spring of 1 873, and in half a year eighty refineries were in 
operation. 

Excellent prices were got for kerosene, and everyone in 
the business was expecting to make considerable profits. 
Under the influence of high prices, the output soon exceeded 
the demand. The erection of new refineries proceeded 
apace, and in a short time what is known as the Black 
Town, a huge conglomeration of refineries, workshops, 
and dwellings, was formed on this reservation just outside 
Baku. 

The refineries were not slow to find out the weak point 
in the excise regulations. Excise was charged, not accord- 
ing to the quantity produced, but on the basis of the 
capacity of the still. For this reason their chief aim was 
to produce as much as possible per still irrespective of 
quality. Astatki and the acid and sod^ dregs were not 
utilised, and, as a matter of fact, were considered absolutely 
useless. The residuum was allowed to run into pits, where it 
was burned, while the dregs collected in pools in the public 
streets. 

The part played by the excise authorities in the early 
development of the refining industry of Baku makes 
curious reading. The authorities, instead of encouraging 
the employment of improved apparatus and methods of 



PHOTOGEN INDUSTRY IN THE CAUCASUS. 47 

treatment, deliberately discouraged enterprise on the part 
of the more advanced producers. The owners of two 
works, one in Central and the other in South Russia, at 
which lubricating oil, soot, pitch-coke, and a heavy illumin- 
ating oil were produced by distilling residuum, succeeded in 
convincing the Inland Revenue that it would be unfair to 
impose a tax as they were only treating residuum, a pro- 
duct which had already paid the excise tax. By Special 
Rescript, the Central Russian works on November 3rd, 
1872, were exempted from compliance with the photogen 
regulations of February ist, 1872 ; the South Russian 
works were also exempt from the tax because they used 
open vats and not closed stills. Two Baku refiners, 
Weiser and Bagirov, the first a lubricating oil and the 
other an asphalt manufacturer, thought this rule would 
apply to them, but they found out to their cost that they 
were wrong. The Excise Department of Transcaucasia 
would not allow exemption from the tax, and the owners 
had to close their works. 

Shortly after this Ragosine applied for permission to 
open a temporary refinery for testing a new process for 
obtaining illuminating and particularly lubricating oils 
from crude oil. His petition was submitted to the 
Emperor by the Minister of Finance. The result was 
the Rescript of November 6th, 1874, authorising the 
Minister to grant for the period of three years the right 
to carry out experimental work at new refineries, and to 
tax all the illuminating oil produced during the experiments 
at the rate of twenty-five copecks per pood. 

About the middle of 1874, the manager of one of the 
new Baku refineries applied to the Excise Department of 
the Caucasus for exemption, but received a refusal. A 
similar fate befell an application made by the Baku Oil 



48 BAKU. 

Company. This company then erected a separate still in 
which it distilled its own residuum and paid the crude tax. 
Altogether the company paid the excise twenty-nine 
copecks for each pood of illuminating oil produced, and 
the treatment of residuum for lubricating oil taking more 
time than the crude treated for illuminating oil, the amount 
of the tax worked out at about forty copecks per pood of 
residuum. In other words for treating three poods of crude 
and obtaining a yield of one pood of illuminating oil and 
one pood of lubricating oil the company paid the excise 
sixty-nine copecks, while, according to the meaning of the 
law, the charge should on no account have exceeded 
twenty-five copecks. 

Robert Nobel, also anxious to engage in the manufacture 
of lubricating oils, applied for permission to conduct experi- 
ments at his refinery. Receiving a refusal, and, to avoid 
constant trouble and friction with the officers of the Excise, 
he paid the full excise tax on one of his stills for six months 
in advance, and used this still for treating residuum, which 
had already paid the tax. 

The attitude of the Excise Department in regard to pre- 
liminary tests became openly hostile when improvements in 
the construction of a still came into question. It looked 
on every improvement proposed as an attempt to circum- 
vent the law, and did all it could to nip experimental 
work in the bud. 

Dzhakeli brought from Marseilles a Martin still, fitted 
with a feed-heater, for extracting the more volatile pro- 
ducts from crude. The excise insisted on this feed-heater 
being considered as a second still, and proposed that he 
should either pay the double tax or remove the auxiliary 
apparatus, and distil his crude by the usual method, i.e., in 
a single still. The enterprising Dzhakeli acted upon the 



PHOTOGEN INDUSTRY IN THE CAUCASUS. 49 

second proposal, and produced the same grade of oil as 
other producers. 

The history of the continuous distillation process is 
another object lesson in official stupidity. Under the 
conditions of that day time meant everything to the 
refiner. Much time had to be wasted and paid for, in 
the case of the ordinary (periodical) still, while the still 
and residuum were allowed to cool. They were taught 
that this was unavoidable by many destructive fires due 
to the rapid oxidation and spontaneous ignition of boiling 
hot residuum on exposure. All saw where the fault lay, 
but no one could think of a remedy until A. Tavrizov, one 
of the Baku refiners, patented (1875) a continuous distilla- 
tion process, consisting in its essentials of an adaptation of 
the slightly modified alcohol rectification plant to the dis- 
tillation of petroleum. The 1872 regulations contained no 
reference to continuous distillation, and on this ground only 
was his application for permission to mount his apparatus 
refused. 

On the other hand it must be admitted that the refiners 
were partly to blame. The majority of the applications 
were put in by those who looked upon the production of 
lubricating oil as a means of circumventing the excise 
and, as a matter of fact, when the excise was abolished 
there were only three lubricating oil works, and none of 
these were at Baku, The lubricating oil industry at Baku 
does not really date further back than the beginning of the 
eighties. 

In 1880 there were in the Apscheron Peninsula 195 
refineries. In Baku proper there was only one, while 32 
were scattered between the town and Black Town. Black 
Town numbered 1 18 refineries, most of them near the shore, 
while the other 44 were outside the urban boundaries 

B. E 



so BAKU. 

in the rural district of Baku, 39 extending along the 
shore east of Black Town, one being situated still further 
east, near Sultan Promontory, two at Surakhani, and two 
at Bibi-Eibat. These contained 505 stills capable of 
taking about 89,000 poods in one charge, and to treat a 
minimum of 204,000 poods and a maximum of 300,000 
poods of crude per day. 



CHAPTER V. 

ROMANCE OF OIL FIELD FINANCE, EARLY (1872) 
AUCTIONS AND PRIMITIVE METHODS OF WORKING. 

THE 1873 AUCTIONS — ATTEMPT TO OVERPOWER MIRZOIEV — DAYS OF 
WILD COMPETITION — LIST OF THE ORIGINAL OWNERS OF PRO- 
PERTIES AT BALAKHANI — THE XIX. GROUP AT BIBI-EIBAT SOLD 
BY TAGIEV TO THE RUSSIAN PETROLEUM AND LIQUID FUEL 

COMPANY, OF LONDON BALAKHANI UNDER THE CONTRACT 

SYSTEM — MR. RAGOSINE's IMPRESSIONS A BUSY YEAR (1872) AT 

BALAKHANI — THE FIRST ENGINEERING WORKS AT THE OIL FIELDS 

THE OLD SUBTERRANEAN LAKE THEORY VERMISHEV SPOUTER 

AT BALAKHANI — CRUDE AT TWO COPECKS PER POOD— RAPID 
INCREASE OF PRODUCTION — SPOUTERS BROUGHT IN DAILY. 

There is a wealth of romance in the finance of oil. We 
find this to be so if we trace the history of certain famous 
plots from the time when they were unproven and when their 
insignificant values were based on nothing more reliable 
than surface indications. At the auctions in the early days 
of the industry business feeling aggravated by race hatred 
led to wild speculation and organised attempts to crush 
rivals. 

To make collusion between the bidders difficult, if not 
impossible, sealed tenders were invited by the Crown on 
December 7th, 14th, 21st, and 28th, 1872. The results 
were a surprise. Instead of the valuation price, £50,000, 
the Crown cleared over ^^ 298,000 for fifteen groups offered 
at Balakhani. Messrs. Gubonin and Kokorev went into 
the competition determined to outbid Mirzoiev, the former 
contractor, and deprive him of his best producing proper- 
ties. At the first and second sales one group after another 

E 2 



52 BAKU. 

was wrested from him, and it looked as if this powerful oil 
man — the owner of two extensive refineries and a large 
photogen trader — was going to be left without crude. At 
the third sale, when No. III. group, on which he had 
drilled a prolific well, was in the market he did not take 
any chances but put in a tender for ;^9S,C)00 against the 
jf 1 1,456 valuation and ;{;6o,ooo offered by Kokorev. The 
fierce competition between Mirzoiev and Kokorev led others 
to adopt similar tactics. Drawn into the vortex of wild 
competition, others put in prices which could not fail to 
considerably reduce their working capital, and, sure enough, 
during the crisis in the photogen industry in 1874 an 
absence of ready cash brought a number of them to the 
verge of ruin. 

A survey commission sectioned the Government-owned 
oil-producing properties in the Apscheron Peninsula into 
twenty-seven-acre plots. These, to the number of forty- 
eight, were sub-sectioned into groups on account of there 
being on each property a number of hand dugs from which 
oil had been extracted during the contract r6gime. At 
Balakhani seventeen groups were to be offered, but two, 
Nos. V. and XVI., were withdrawn on account of claims 
lodged by private owners. Considerable litigation resulted 
in just over half of No. V. group, the part on the left of the 
Mashtagi road, consisting of four plots in No. XVI. and 
each about 4,900 square feet, being adjudged Crown pro- 
perty. Half of No. V. group and the whole of the No. XVI. 
are now in the Saboonchi field. The petroliferous area of 
Balakhani covered some 842 acres, but only 460 acres were 
offered for sale. At first the Government proposed to allot 
the remaining 382 acres to the villagers of Balakhani who 
had no pasturage. Government experts and advisers, 
recognising the immense potentialities of these lands, on 



ROMANCE OF OIL FIELD FINANCE. 53 

which at least one spouter had been drilled, expressed 
opinions which led the authorities to distribute the plots 
amongst court favourites, famous soldiers and noblemen. 
Oil lands were practically given away as Royal gifts. In 
1878 Lieut-General Lazarev was granted twenty-seven 
acres (plot No. 6) and a few years later the Countess 
Gagarin became the fortunate possessor of thirteen and a 
half acres (plot No. 8). The greatest rush was for the fifteen 
groups at Balakhani. These came into the possession of 
the following six firms — 

(1) I. M. Mirzoiev for ^122,155 secured Nos. III., IX., 
X. and XI. (valuation £13,500). 

(2) Kokorev and Gubonin (transformed in 1874 into the 
Baku Oil Co.) acquired for ^f 132,333 possession of the Nos. 
I., II., IV., VI., VIII., and XV. (valuation £i66,2g6). 

(3) A. and M. Benkendorfif and P. P. Muromtzev secured 
for ;^io,37S the Nos. XII. and XVII. (valuation ;^i,704). 

(4) The Khalafi Company (Vermishev & Co), secured 
for £11,722 the No. XIV. (valuation £2,278). 

(5) Lianozov secured for £2,491 the No. VII. (valuation 
£131). 

(6) The Soutchastniki Company (the Partners' Com- 
pany), started on August 19th, 1872, secured for ;£'i,858 
the No. XIII. (valuation £4). 

The remaining thirty-one groups outside Balakhani went 
at comparatively low figures. No. XIX. group at Bibi- 
Eibat was secured by Tagiev and Sarkissov for £906 
against the valuation price of £'37. This group is now 
owned by the Russian Petroleum and Liquid Fuel Com- 
pany, of London, which paid ;^6oo,ooo for the property. 
Shortly after the purchase deed was signed this company 
had a spouter which in a month erupted close on 500,000 
tons of oil and realised about half the price paid for the 



54 BAKU. 

property. The second (XX,) group was purchased by 
Zubalov and Dzhakely. 

On December 28th, 1872, the final sale was held, and on 
January ist, 1873, the groups were handed over to the 
owners, who started development work in real earnest. 

Before the abolition of the contract system work at 
Balakhani was carried on in a most primitive manner. 
Mr. Ragosine has left a record of his impressions. On the 
left of the main road going from Baku to Mashtagi, on the 
northern shore of the Apscheron Peninsula, and opposite 
the village of Balakhani, there were a few shallow pits. 
The whistle of the steam engine had not been heard in 
the region, and there was absolutely nothing to indicate 
that the owners and their native workmen knew anything 
about improved methods of working. Everything was 
primitive. The oil was taken out of the pits in skin bags 
which were drawn to the surface by horses working a 
pulley arrangement. Transport from the oil fields was 
also in skin bags suspended from two-wheeled carts of 
native construction, and having wheels 9 ft. high to enable 
them to move better over the sandy roads. Only on the 
fringe of the region did Mr. Ragosine see two lonely high 
derricks, and even in these, as if to bring them into 
harmony with the monotony of the scene, all work had 
been suspended. Further away, there stretched a bare, 
sandy plain, here and there relieved by low scrub-like 
growths of tiny vines. The oil pits were just as they had been 
left by the Persian rulers and the Baku Khans. The spirit 
of the industrial West had not disturbed them down to the 
end of 1872, when, Mr. Ragosine says, the long and burden- 
some rule of the contract system terminated. A few 
months after this engines were erected in the oil fields, a 
small forest of derricks pointed skywards, and boiler 



ROMANCE OF OIL FIELD FINANCE. 55 

whistles protested in shrill tones against the incongruity 
of the hand-dug pit in the development of a modern 
industry. 

Balakhani was the chief centre of activity. No sooner 
were the rich resources and immense possibilities of this 
region demonstrated by the bringing in of one spouter* 
after another, every one from a shallow depth, than the 
Crown started to carry out quite a liberal land distribution 
programme. A total of 254 acres was disposed of in this 
manner. In addition large areas of communal land at 
Balakhani and Bibi-Eibat, subsequently claimed by the 
Government, were leased to producers by the communal 

* In the case of a spouter (called a gusher in America), if it is a 
powerful one, the oil bursts upwards through the tubing, frequently 
sends the boring tools and workmen flying in all directions, shatters 
the derrick, and raises itself in a black, unbroken mass. Dancing in 
the sun it shoots out oil sprays in fantastic shapes, and gives forth 
flashes of rainbow colours as it falls away and swirls along the ditches 
into the reservoirs. Oil does not come from a well like water from a 
fountain. It is thrown out with a three-fold power. A peculiarity of 
an oil fountain is the manner in which it radiates. This is due to the 
component parts differing in density and power to amalgamate. 
Rushing from the well these take up their position in the mass of liquid 
according to their respective gravities, and the gas, expanding, breaks 
up the column of oil. In a water fountain the rush comes inter- 
mittently ; in an oil fountain it comes periodically. In Texas, where 
the spouters are not so powerful as the famous wells of Baku, they 
work a clever system of valves, and producers are compelled to lose as 
little time as possible in getting their wells under control. In the boom 
days (igoi) I saw many wells uncapped and allowed to flow simul- 
taneously and at different angles for the amusement of crowds of 
shareholders who, headed by brass bands, marched in processional 
order on to the oil field at Spindle Top. At Baku, Boryslaw (GaUcia) 
and other oU fields oil men treat the birth of a spouter as a more 
serious business. Some of the most famous of the wild wells of Baku 
have, as I have described in this work, wrought such terrible havoc in 
the fields that no unnecessary risks are taken, while everything possible 
is done to prevent destruction of property and loss of Ufe. 



56 BAKU. 

authorities — an act which eventually led to serious disputes 
with the Crown. 

In that year (1873) there were no engineering shops. 
Damaged tools had to be taken to the works of the Baku 
Port authorities and the Caucasus and Mercury Steamship 
Company. No sooner was the contract regime abolished 
than numerous engineering shops were erected, but work 
was not started without considerable difficulty, much of it 
of a kind that was not expected. At Baku there was 
not only a lack of experienced oil drillers, but the ordinary 
artisan was a rara avis. Still, despite these difficulties, 
derrick after derrick was built, and Balakhani was started 
on its career as one of the world's greatest oil fields. As 
the production increased and the price of oil went up to 
forty-five copecks per pood the fever of speculation raged 
more violently than ever, while the expert theorists of the 
day, and several well-known British travellers who were 
not experts, unanimously put forward the opinion that 
beneath Balakhani there was an inexhaustible subter- 
ranean lake of oil — a theory, by the way, which has 
been upset by the research work of the foremost oil field 
geologists of the present time. 

At the end of February, the price fell below forty- 
five copecks per pood and suddenly dropped to thirty 
copecks, when the leading producers, alarmed at the 
sensational decline, held a meeting to discuss the best 
steps to be taken to keep prices at a reasonable level. 
Those who attended the meeting did not uphold their own 
decisions, and, a feeling of mistrust becoming general, 
they rushed into the market and attempted to undersell 
each other. 

In this way matters dragged on till the end of June, 
1873, when the famous Vermishev spouter came into 



ROMANCE OF OIL FIELD FINANCE. 57 

action on the XIV. group, the property of the Khalafi 
Company. When it burst forth the oil flowed in rivers 
over the entire field, and the news of the strike created 
quite a sensation at St. Petersburg and Moscow. Above 
the well mud and sand formed a cone-shaped mound, 
down the slopes of which rushed rivers of oil. No adequate 
tankage having been provided, vast quantities of oil 
were lost. This loss went on for nearly four months, 
when the well, becoming a periodical spouter, was got 
under control. 

Mr. Arthur Arnold, M.P., who visited Baku in 1875, has 
put it on record that the stalk of this spouter, then two 
years old, was nine feet in diameter and the height not less 
than forty feet. The immediate result of the unexpectedly 
large yield of the well was a glut of oil and an absence of 
buyers. 

Within eight months of the abolition of the contract 
system the price of crude had dropped to two copecks a 
pood. If we ignore the exceptionally high prices demanded 
during part of August, this year, the price has never gone 
up to forty-five copecks again. At first it was thought 
that further drilling work would have to be abandoned, 
but it was eventually found that even the low price of two 
copecks left the producer a margin of profit. 

A pumper brought in by the Baku Oil Company 
(Kokorev and Gubonin) on No. VIII. group yielded 
io,ocx3 poods per day for two years, the output eventually 
diminishing to sixty to eighty tons per day, at which it 
stood far into the eighties. It was known as the Kormi- 
litza (Wet-Nurse) well. Visitors who saw it in 1886 
considered it a reliable producer. 

The Khalafi Company had another spouter in 1874 from 
a nine-inch well. Coming in on July 27th, it continued 



58 BAKU. 

playing until the end of the year, when it became an inter- 
mittent spouter for six months, and finished its career as a 
pumper. At the start every effort to stop the flow was a 
failure, and a huge quantity of oil ran to waste. 

As regards the private lands in the vicinity of the proven 
Balakhani properties, they had not been prospected, nor 
were there any pits to assist the judgment of enterprising 
producers in the important matter of where to drill. The 
first well on private ground was drilled to the right of 
the Mashtagi road, almost facing No. XV. group. It was 
soon surrounded by three others ; all were drilling on the 
off chance of striking oil, and work went on in a half- 
hearted fashion on account of poverty of finance and the 
uncertainty of success. During 1874, three more wells 
were started, but as oil was not struck they were abandoned 
in 1875. 

In the meantime, at Balakhani, where development work 
was in the hands of men who were certain of success, and 
had ample means for carrying on exploitation work, the 
number of wells and production went on increasing rapidly, 
just exactly at what rate is shown in the following table : — 





No. ofWeUs. 


Production in poods. 


1870 ... 


— 


1,482,100 


I87I ... 


— 


1,165,285 


1872 ... 


2 


1.395,114 


1873 - 


9 


3,903-886 


1874 - 


19 


4,702,343 


187s - 


28 


5,353,043 



Drilling work was energetically carried on at Balakhani, 
and in October, 1875, another powerful spouter came into 
play on the Soutchastniki Company's property (No. XIII. 
group). This spouter again caused a slump in oil prices, 
and other producers stopped drilling. 

In 1874, the well, which was 196 feet deep, and had been 



ROMANCE OF OIL FIELD FINANCE. 59 

giving 2,cx)0 poods a day, began to give a reduced output. 
Burmeister, the driller in charge of the property, began to 
bore deeper in search of a new oil stratum. At 3 1 S feet he 
lost oil, but discovered huge quantities of gas. At 280 feet 
he reached a bed of rock, so very hard that he had to put 
eight men on to drill through it, and these only managed a 
few inches a day. Suddenly, on October 26th, the boring 
tool broke through the roof of the subterranean reservoir, 
and only one man was needed instead of eight. To ascer- 
tain the cause of the change, the tool was withdrawn, with 
the result that a small quantity of oil was thrown out of 
the well. This eruption ceased after a few minutes ; then 
a strange silence was followed by the ominous roar of gas 
accompanied by subterranean explosions and a perceptible 
trembling of the earth near the well. Oil and gas spouted 
at intervals. A precautionary cap of half-inch boiler plate 
was fixed over the mouth of the tube ; but that night the 
oil broke through it, and shot upwards to a height of 40 
feet. Next day the flow was at the rate of 1 50,000 poods 
for the twenty-four hours. Four large lakes of oil were 
formed before the spouter was got under control on 
November 23rd. The oil either soaked into the ground 
or evaporated. One of the lakes was fired to clear the 
ground for new wells, and the sky at Baku was lit up every 
night for nearly a week by the great glare of the oil field 
conflagration. No one put any value on the oil ; everyone 
knew that if there was a demand they could find as much 
oil as they wanted. Spouters were brought in daily, each 
one surpassing its predecessor in grandeur. Not a single 
producer had provided himself with storage facilities, or 
with means for regulating the flow of the oil, which streamed 
all over the region, soaking into the calcareous sand soil 
and destroying the scattered patches of vegetation on the 



bo BAKU. 

waste lands of the Balakhani and Saboonchi oil fields. The 
whole surface of the field was saturated with oil, and 
American drillers, familiar with the small wells of Penn- 
sylvania, were amazed at the marvellous and overwhelming 
production of the spouters at Balakhani. The inevitable 
result was a glut of oil and a slump in prices, the market 
being further affected by the fact that the refining industry 
was passing through a crisis. The depression was so 
acute that only those producers who were also owners 
of refineries, found it possible to work their wells. 

On the private lands at Saboonchi drilling work 
continued in 1875, but only on a small scale. Land was 
not expensive ; a freehold acre could be bought at from 
;^27o to ;£^400, and land somewhat further away near 
Ramani and Zabrat could be purchased for ;^ 13 5. A 
successful well at Saboonchi, brought in at a depth of 70 ft, 
to 80 ft. and yielding a better quantity of oil than the 
ones at Balakhani, created a land boom and led to the 
formation of a multitude of companies. In a small area of 
a few thousand square feet one derrick after another was 
erected, and the famous Shaitan (Devil's) Bazaar was 
established. The satanic description was hit upon by 
those who saw the crowds of oil-stained workers toiling 
night and day in the small colony. The producers, men 
of limited means, combined and formed a number of small 
companies which attempted to secure properties, not by 
the dessiatine (one dessiatine = 2*7 acres), but by the 
saghen (one saghen = 7 ft.). A square saghen was at 
the start obtainable for five roubles (about lo^d. per square 
foot), but it soon fetched double the price, and within two 
years the figure increased from ;£^270 to ;^4,400 per acre. 
Plots were sold by the square saghen for ten and fifteen 
roubles, for a period generally running between ten to twelve 



ROMANCE OF OIL FIELD FINANCE. 6i 

years, the sellers, in addition, stipulating for a fixed share of 
the production. The subdivision of plots was carried to 
extremes, and properties were no longer bought by 
hundreds of saghens but by tens. On some properties a 
two-wheeled arba could not be turned round, and the 
proverbial cat could not be swung amongst the derricks. 
After the subdivision of plots came the subdivision of 
shares and profit-sharing certificates. 

The late Mr. Ragosine (a pioneer of the Russian refining 
industry, the first to persuade foreign consumers to take 
up Russian lubricating oil, an engineer and chemist by 
profession, and one of the most able of the petroleum 
pamphleteers of his day) used to tell the story of a 
ocmpany consisting of ten men which bought a plot of 
7,350 square feet at ^^d. per square foot. When they 
struck oil one of the partners sold a seventh of his share 
interest to a new company of seven persons, while one of 
these disposed of one-third of his share to a third company 
in which there were four persons. 

This partition of properties does not appear so very 
surprising when one remembers the profits which were 
made by these early producers. Fortunes were quickly 
earned ; every producer made money, and at that time not a 
single case of failure in the petroleum industry was recorded. 
Here is a typical case. The Soutchastniki Company was 
constituted on August 19th, 1872, with a share capital of 
;^4,6oo, each of the twenty-three partners contributing 
iTzoo. At the December sales the company bought the 
XIII. group, valued at about £4, for ;^i,858. The balance 
was partly used in buying other properties and partly in 
acquiring an oil field inventory. Starting work at the 
beginning of 1873, the company was able out of the profits 
made in the first five years to increase the original capital 



62 BAKU. 

by ^5,412, so that in 1878 the capital amounted to about 
;^ 10,000. In 1877 the company produced 1,592,569 poods, 
and made an absolute profit of ;^7,868, £342 on each 
original share, or 171 per cent. In 1878, when the 
expenditure was ;f400 less than in the preceding year, the 
company produced 2,083,649 poods, but prices being lower 
the profits only amounted to 3^6,531, representing 2,840 
roubles per share, or 142 per cent. 

The striking of oil on free lands, and the bringing in of 
the first spouter in the middle of 1873, brought about an 
unprecedented drop in the price of crude. Prices declined 
from 45 copecks to 2-3 copecks per pood. Such a 
sudden fall in the value of crude upset the estimates of 
the producers. The new producing enterprises were in 
need of hard cash for the erection of refineries, while on 
the other hand their resources had been seriously strained 
by the payment of about ;£^30o,ooo to the Crown at the 
auction. In the absence of a properly organised credit, 
the further development and extension of the industry was 
retarded in spite of the steadily increasing demand for 
petroleum products. These conditions had a most depress- 
ing effect on the industry, and the producing branch found 
itself in the throes of its first industrial crisis. 



CHAPTER VI. 

SOME FAMOUS SPOUTERS (1876— 1880). 

THE SOUTCHASTNIKI COMPANY AND ITS RECORD OF SPOUTERS — 
SHAITAN BAZAAR — RAMANI AND ZABKAT ESTATES — EXTENSION OF 
THE FIELD — A WELL WHICH GAVE THREE MILLION POODS — HOW 

A GARDEN BECAME AN OIL FIELD OIL MEN SCRAMBLE TO GET 

INTO THE GOLDEN BAZAAR — THE ARARAT AND SUN WELLS ; 

TOGETHER THEY PRODUCE TWENTY-FOUR MILLION POODS 

BINAGADI AND THE EXCISE — DRILLING AT SURAKHANI A FAILURE 
— WHITE OIL — EARLY EXCISE ANOMALIES — OPENING OF THE 
TRANSCAUCASIAN RAILWAY. 

In 1876 the Soutchastniki Company, famous for its 
record of spouters, struck oil in a 6^ ft. diameter and 
280 ft. deep well. Directly the oil source was reached the 
oil burst forth with terrific force. The production was 
about 70,000 poods per day, or 6,000,000 poods during the 
ninety days it was not under control. In this well, like 
others drilled during the first few years, the casing had 
been lowered into position without anything being done to 
strengthen it at the top, and this made its capping a matter 
of impossibility. Directly wells of this description were 
capped the oil burst through the sides of the casing. 

Lenz,* an expert driller, dug down 25 ft. round the 
casing and packed the space between it and the solid 

* In 1869 Lenz, then chief engineer of the Caucasus and Mercury 
Steamship Company, and now a boring contractor at Baku, was sent 
to this country to see Aydon and Dorsett on the subject of their liquid 
fuel burners. On his return he invented a burner, which was widely 
adopted in Russia. When his apparatus became a success, he left the 
company and started as an engineer and contract driller. 



64 BAKU. 

ground with cement, well puddled clay, stones and other 
rubble, all rammed down to resist the pressure. An iron 
cap was then fitted over the top of the well. No oil was 
sold, there being no demand, and it was allowed to collect 
in a natural lake, where it remained for ten years, 
when it was shown to some of those who attended the 
third donference of the Baku Petroleum Producers' 
Association. 

In the following year"(i877) Orbelov Brothers brought in 
a monster spouter at Shaitan Bazaar. The well was only 
2IO ft. deep and the pipe loj in. diameter. The start was 
tame, the well being easily capped, but while the cap 
arrangement was being made safer the pressure shattered 
it, and the oil burst forth with a fury which nothing could 
check. In thirty minutes a tank was filled to the brim 
and the oil flowed all over the place, forming one lake after 
another. Some 9,000,000 poods went to waste before the 
spouter was got under control. The flow occasionally 
amounted to about 250,000 poods per day. 

A less sensational but more profitable strike was made 
by Mirzoiev on the No. IX. group in 1877. Oil had been 
struck in the previous year. The following spring in 
deepening the well to 240 ft. the oil commenced to spout at 
the rate of 18,000 poods per day. After a while it was got 
under control, and for years was one of the steadiest 
producers in the field. 

Amongst the 1878 spouters the Caspian Company 
brought one in from a depth of 462 ft. ; it yielded close on 
40,000 poods per day, and a total of over 2,000,000 poods, 
of which over half went for fuel, while the remainder ran 
to waste. 

Of great importance in the development of the industry 
was the drilling of wells at the Ramani and Zabrat 



SOME FAMOUS SPOUTERS. 1876— 1880. 65 

estates. The result was an extension of proven territory. 
No sooner had Boitchevski's first well near Ramani proved 
a spouter, yielding an excellent grade of crude, than the 
merits of the region were recognised and the surrounding 
properties quickly taken up. The land round the spouter 
was soon covered with derricks, while some were erected 
in the Ramani gardens. These strikes did not lead to the 
creation of a second Shaitan Bazaar, because one prolific 
spouter after another was being brought in on the Zabrat 
estate, north of Shaitan Bazaar. 

East of No. V. group the first well was drilled by Mr. 
Kleigels, an engineer, on the property of the Zykh 
Petroleum Company. Drilling about 450 ft. without 
striking oil, he abandoned work, and the locality was 
reported to be unpromising. This failed to deter Mr. 
Burmeister (the Colonel Lucas of Baku) from deepening a 
well on the adjacent freehold property of the First 
Saboonchi Company (Mnatzakanov and Company). His 
perseverance was rewarded by the bringing in of a prolific 
spouter at 294 ft. The well, completed with a 10 in, 
diameter pipe, threw opt water and gas during the first 
month ; huge quantities of sand followed, and finally oil 
arrived with a rush which shot the heavy cap like a cannon 
ball from the mouth of the well. The eruption continued 
uninterruptedly for nearly four months, the production 
being at an average rate of 20,000 poods per day, or 
3,000,000 poods altogether. Of this 500,000 poods were 
sold at half-a-copeck per pood (about 8d. a ton) ; 1 50,000 
poods were bought by the Caspian Company for fuel for 
800 roubles, and the remainder was intentionally destroyed 
by fire or allowed to sink into the ground. The casing 
tubes, which had cost ;^500, were worn into shreds by the 
friction of the sand-charged oil. Adjacent plots were 
B. F 



66 BAKU. 

quickly taken up at high figures, and derricks appeared 
like mushrooms after rain. The transformation was 
complete ; a garden had become an oil field. Another 
centre, the Golden Bazaar, leaped into prominence. Its 
subterranean oil sources appeared to be inexhaustible. 
During the first six months of 1878 this comparatively 
small area was credited with over twenty-five spouters. 
The output of Golden Bazaar increased at a surprising 
rate, while the sub-division of partners' shares and plot 
leases ran into microscopic fractions. The Baku oil 
men of that day scrambled to get into Golden Bazaar, 
but soon found themselves in difficulties as a result of the 
1878 crisis, and were forced to stop work and wait for 
better times. 

At Golden Bazaar a still more prolific spouter was 
brought in at the end of 1879 on group No. V. partly 
owned by the Ararat Company. On reaching 280 ft. 
the oil stratum with a loj in. pipe, the boring tools were 
withdrawn, but, the well refusing to spout, drilling work 
was resumed, with the result that no sooner had the well 
been deepened 15 in. than spouting commenced. The 
rods were extracted with considerable difficulty and the 
well capped, but the pressure proved too much for the 
casing and the oil shot through the holes in sufficient 
quantity to supply the requirements of the company. 
The total yield was about 9,000,000 poods, of which 
1,000,000 were given to a producer as compensation for 
damage done by the oil which flooded his property ; 
about 2,000,000 poods were sold at a half copeck per 
pood, and the remainder was allowed to run to waste 
into Zabrat Lake. 

The Sun Company (merged in 1893 into the firm of 
Melikov Bros.) working another section of No. V. group. 



SOME FAMOUS SPOUTERS. 1876— 1880. 67 

undeterred by the possibility of the Ararat Company's 
spouter having drained the surrounding oil sources, 
commenced to drill a 12-in. well. Early in the following 
year oil sand was passed through, then clay, and after- 
wards quicksand. There being indications that they were 
approaching the oil stratum which fed the Ararat Com- 
pany's spouter, work was stopped, and the head of the 
casing strengthened down to 20 ft. with tightly-packed 
concrete. After continuing for eight days and nights, the 
drillers struck oil. The effect on the Ararat well was 
surprising. No sooner had the Sun Company reached the 
containing layer than the Ararat spouter ceased. When 
the Sun well was capped, it came again into play. The 
position, commercially, was obviously an interesting one. 
An attempt to amalgamate the concerns failed, and the 
wells were worked in competition for two months, during 
which period the Sun Company disposed of 4,800,000 
poods at two copecks per pood. In the third month the 
Sun well blew off its cap, got beyond control, became wild 
in fact, and 2,000,000 poods of oil flowed into Zabrat Lake. 
Both wells ceased to spout. The two together had thrown 
up 24,000,000 poods of oil. As bailers they maintained a 
daily yield of over 5,000 poods each, and lasted far into 
the eighties. 

Drilling work was also proceeded with at Binagadi, Sura- 
khani, Bibi-Eibat, Ramani, and elsewhere, but the results 
were not everywhere the same. Binagadi started well ; 
there was not a single dry hole. Unfortunately, the oil 
being of high specific gravity and of considerably thicker 
consistency than Balakhani crude, it did not meet the 
requirements of the refiners. The oil had no practical 
value, because, while containing a smaller percentage of 
illuminating oil, the distilling process occupied more time. 

F 2 



68 BAKU. 

The disadvantage of this will be seen when it is remembered 
that the Excise did not tax the refiner at a fixed rate per 
pood of the output, but by the capacity of each still, at so 
much per hour. Although officially fixed at twenty-five 
copecks per pood, the tax paid by the refiner varied from 
eight to forty copecks per pood of distillate. This was one 
of the chief reasons why drilling work was abandoned at 
Binagadi. At that time the producers could find no 
suitable application for a heavy crude oil. Some tried 
to substitute it for residuum, which was just beginning 
to be used as a fuel. In this they failed, chiefly, because 
the crude could not compete with residuum on account of 
the cost of cartage (five copecks per pood) to Baku, while 
the refineries were only too glad to get rid of their residuum 
at any price. 

Drilling at Surakhani proved a complete failure. In 
this case the cause of failure was the low gravity of the 
crude. A peculiar grade of crude, known as white oil, was 
struck in all the wells. The crude was almost translucent 
and of lower specific gravity than kerosene, and it 
contained a very small percentage of fractions suitable for 
use as illuminating oil, while the other fractions were of a 
too low flash point to be safely used in ordinary lamps. 
An attempt was made to substitute it for turps in the 
mixing of paints, but the results were unsatisfactory, and 
drilling at Surakhani came to an end. 

At Bibi-Eibat there were only two groups, the XIX. 
(British since 1896) and XX., in development. In its 
physical properties, the oil produced at these was of a 
grade midway between Surakhani and Binagadi crudes^ 
but much superior to Balakhani crude. It was of "850 
specific gravity and yielded about 60 per cent, of illumin- 
ating oil. While the excise was reckoned by the capacity 



SOME FAMOUS SPOUTERS. 1876— 1880. 69 

of a still, Bibi-Eibat crude was double the price of Bala- 
khani crude. The owners of both groups had erected 
refineries on their properties. In the matter of the disposal 
of their products, these were most favourably situated. 
Balakhani producers had to pay five copecks per pood for 
delivery to the refineries, and the refiners again had to 
bear the expense of delivery to the Baku wharves. These 
charges had not to be borne by the two Bibi-Eibat pro- 
ducers. There being no private properties near the 
Government groups, except a few communal lands of 
questionable title, producers in general were not over keen 
on starting work at Bibi-Eibat. Col. Burmeister drilled 
on a leasehold property ; the well, a freak,* commenced to 
spout from 560 ft, not oil, but hot water. No better 
results attended the efforts of other operators. 

* When in Baku recently I saw (on the Saboonchi property of the 
Caspian Company, I think) a freak hot water well. When I entered 
the derrick, from which all the machinery had been removed, the 
water was welling up over the top of the casing and squirting through 
the rivet holes. Half-a-dozen workmen were squatting and washing 
in the heavy cascade of pure white hot water. This great well flows 
clean water, although it is in the centre of a cluster of oil wells. 



CHAPTER VII. 



TRANSPORT AND DRILLING IMPROVEMENTS 
(1872— 1880). 

EXIT, THE HAND-DUG — THE AMERICAN ROPE SYSTEM IN RUSSIA — 
HORSE AND CAMEL V. PIPE LINE — FIRST PIPE LINE LAID BY 
NOBELS — HOSTILITY OF THE NATIVES — FOLLOWERS OF NOBEL — 

FIRST OIL FIELD RAILWAY THE FIRST BULK OIL-CARRIER ON 

THE CASPIAN — NOBELS' FIRST TANK STEAMER — THE INDUSTRY 
BADLY ORGANISED — THE COMPETITION WITH AMERICAN ILLUMI- 
NATING OIL ST. PETERSBURG AND PETROLEUM TAXATION — THE 

OUTLOOK IN 1880. 

Numerous improvements were introduced during the 
first eight years, between the time of the abolition of the 
contract system and the end of 1880. The chief feature of 
this period was the rapid supersession of the primitive 
hand-dug by the steam-drilled well. In 1872, the year 
before the new era, there were only two wells, and a few 
hundred (4x5, including many abandoned ones) hand dugs. 
The advance of the steam-drilled well is best seen from 
the following table : — 

Steam-drillfid. Hand dugs. 

1873 17 158 



1874- 
1875. 
1876. 
1878 . 



SO 
65 

lOI 

301 



i8s 
170 
62 



When Nobels took up the producing business they 
decided to improve upon the method of drilling. They 
brought over six American drillers to try the rope system. 
This system did not quite meet requirements at Baku, but 



IMPROVEMENTS. 1872— 1880. 71 

ttie Nobels introduced certain modifications with the result 
that they produced a composite system which quickly came 
into general use and retains its popularity up to the 
present time. 

The next difficulty producers had to face was the 
delivery of the oil from the wells to the refineries, and its 
subsequent carriage in the crude or refined state to the 
consumer. Originally the crude and its products were 
transported in boordukes (goat or ram skin bags holding 
from two to three poods of oil) by horse or camel. Whole 
caravans of camels loaded with these bags used to leave 
Baku for distant parts of Transcaucasia and Persia. During 
the seventies these bags were replaced by oval shaped 
barrels of four poods capacity, each camel carrying two 
slung across its back. Where the distance was not great, 
arbas (local carts with two 6-7 ft. high wheels rigidly 
fixed to the axle) were used. They easily get over the 
ground, and an average horse can draw from twenty to 
twenty-five poods of oil. The barrel was not loaded on 
top of the arba, but was suspended by a rope beneath the 
bottom of the vehicle. While this mode of transport is 
still in existence, conveyance in skin bags was entirely 
superseded by the pipe lines and railways more than 
twenty-five years ago. 

Mr. Arthur Arnold (1875) gives an interesting account 
in his " Through Persia by Caravan," of what the system 
was then. " All day long," he says, " petroleum rolls into 
Baku in carts of the most curious pattern imaginable. A 
Neapolitan single-horse, two-wheeled carriage for fifteen 
people is unique, but it is commonplace in comparison 
with an oil cart of Baku. Few men would have the 
courage to import a Baku oil cart and drive it even for a 
very high wager through Regent Street or Pall Mall. 



72 BAKU. 

Where is the man who dare to pose himself there, perched 
and caged in a little rail cart big enough to hold one barrel 
of petroleum, and lifted so high on wheels, 7 ft. diameter 
that another tub can be slung beneath the axle, the whole 
thing being painted with all the colours of the rainbow, 
and creaking loudly as it is drawn by a diminutive horse, 
the back of which is hardly up to a level with the axle ? 
Yet the producers say that already they pay collectively 
not much less than ;f 100,000 a year for the cartage of oil 
in carriages of this sort." 

Previous to the opening of the first pipe line, and of the 
oil field railway, there were some 10,000 oil-carrying arbas, 
which frequently made two journeys in both directions a 
day. In bad weather, however, the drivers were not 
anxious to work, the roads turning at a time of rain into 
mud pools, rendering traffic between the town and the oil 
wells almost impossible, even on horseback. The refiners 
were entirely dependent on the state of the weather, which 
frequently spelt considerable loss to them, especially under 
the excise regime, when it frequently happened that 
a refiner, after having paid the excise for six days in 
advance, had to keep his stills idle. In addition, the arba 
drivers frequently struck for higher pay, and gradually 
forced prices for delivery up to from five to eight copecks per 
pood. These conditions prevailed up to 1875, the refiners 
feeling the burden and complaining, but doing nothing to 
put a stop to the impositions until the Nobels made their 
appearance on the scene as refinery owners. To diminish 
the expense and ensure a larger and more rapid supply, 
the Nobels tried to persuade the other firms to lay down a 
joint pipe line. Jealousy and want of enterprise, character- 
istics which have frequently dominated common sense in 
those parts, caused the other firms to refuse to participate 



IMPROVEMENTS. 1872^1880. 73 

in the scheme, and, as an alternative, they applied in 1877 
to the Government for permission to build, at their own 
expense and risk, a raiWay connecting the oil fields with 
the refinery region. Although supported by the local 
administration, their petition was pigeon-holed by the 
higher authorities. In the following year, however, the 
Government commenced to build the railway, which was 
opened in April, 1879. The terminus was at Saboonchi 
Lake, filled up for the purpose, and from there one branch 
was constructed to Surakhani, and a second along the 
XII. group to Balakhani. The other terminus was made 
between Baku and Black Town. Oil was either carried 
in barrels or in bulk in tank waggons. At the request of 
a producer the railway management laid down a pipe 
line between his property and the Saboonchi terminus. 
As the station was lower than the property, the oil 
flowed by gravity, and the pumping central being above 
the permanent way, the oil also flowed into the tank cars 
by gravity. 

The Nobels had in 1877 commenced to lay down their 
pipe line, completed at a cost of ;f 10,000, which they 
recovered the first year the line was working. In view of 
the magnitude of this branch of the industry to-day, a 
brief description of this pioneer pipe line will be of interest. 
The central station, with iron tanks capable of storing 
108,000 poods of crude, were erected at Balakhani, near 
the XV. group, at a level 210 ft. above the Black Town 
station. From the oil field central the oil was forced with 
the aid of a twenty -seven-horse-power steam pump through 
the S-in. pipes at a velocity of 3J ft. per second. The 
maximum capacity of the line was 80,000 poods per day. 
The delivery of the oil to the central tanks at Balakhani 
was effected with the aid of smaller pumps mounted at 



74 BAKU. 

the properties. At the central station the crude was stored 
in iron tanks. From the trunk, branch lines were laid to 
some of the refineries, the owners of which were not slow 
to recognise the advantages of the new method of transport. 
The crude was delivered to these with the aid of the large 
Balakhani pump. For some years the refiners paid the 
Nobels 5 copecks per pood of crude piped a distance of 
6J miles. A few years later the pipe charge declined 
to i^ copecks per pood. The advent of the first pipe line 
spelt ruin to the arba drivers, and Nobels had to protect 
their first line by appointing guards and erecting sentry 
boxes every few hundred yards. Infuriated Tartars, whose 
lucrative business they had destroyed, did damage to the 
lines. No sooner had Nobels completed their pipe line 
than the Baku Oil Company followed suit, and connected 
its XV. group with the Surakhani refinery, and the latter 
with the Zykh Promontory, where it had constructed a 
jetty. The total length of this pipe line was from nine to 
eleven miles. 

Towards the end of 1878, a start was made with the 
laying down of three new lines. Mirzoiev laid a nine mile 
4 -in. pipe line, capable of handling 50,000 poods of crude 
per day, between the X. group and his Baku refinery, and 
Lianozov from his No. VII. group, a nine and three-quarter 
mile 3-in. pipe line, of 25,000 poods capacity, to Black 
Town. The third, laid by the Caspian Company, was not 
a continuous one. From the wells the oil was pumped to 
the Saboonchi railway station, from where it was carried 
in tank cars to the village of Kapsili, and delivered by 
pipe line to the refinery of the company close by. These 
pipe lines were sixty miles in length. 

The transport of oil across the Caspian Sea improved 
during the second year of the new era. Up till then the 



IMPROVEMENTS. 1872— 1880. 75 

shipments consisted entirely of barrelled oil. Barrels 
holding 25 poods, and costing at Baku from ten to twelve 
roubles, were used, the empty barrel only realising in 
Russia three roubles. Thus, when residuum was as low as 
five copecks a pood at Baku, it could not be delivered at 
Nizhni for less than eighty-three copecks, the price working 
out as follows : — 

Roubles. Copecks. 

25 poods of residuum at Baku i 25 

Loss on barrel 9 o 

Freight to Nizhni and leakage at 42 

copecks per pood ... 10 50 



20 75 
or, roughly, 80 copecks per pood, or 4fd. per gallon. 

Expensive barrels and freights stood in the way of 
successful competition with imported American oil, and, as 
a matter of fact, American illuminating continued to be 
imported into Russia in quantities exceeding the Russian 
supply for a few years after the abolition of the excise tax 
on the refining industry. The earliest attempts to transport 
oil in bulk across the Caspian were made in 1874 by 
Artimiev, an Astrakhan trader, and Messrs. Ragosine and 
Shippov. A feature of these bulk oil-carrying vessels was 
that the oil was loaded straight into the wooden vessels, 
the pressure of the water preventing leakage through the 
hull. The level of the oil in the vessel had, of course, to 
be kept below the water line. They were built so that the 
lower deck was just on the water line. Additional iron 
tanks were arranged on deck, and the vessels also carried 
barrelled oil. The introduction of transport in bulk 
brought Volga prices down to forty and even thirty 
copecks a pood. 

When Nobels finished their pipe line they turned their 



76 BAKU. 

attention to sea transport, and, failing to induce the 
Caucasus and Mercury Company to start a tank steamer 
service on the Caspian, they built one themselves and 
started to run it in 1879. 

* * * * 

During the period under review the demand did not 
keep pace with the supply ; some of the producers were 
compelled to stop work, and a period of depression followed. 
If the industry had been even slightly organised the pro- 
ducers would not have had to face a petroleum crisis. 
The new era was entered upon without the slightest 
attention to the important question of demand. The bulk 
of the output was used in the production of photogen, and 
if for any reason the refineries had been closed down the 
petroleum industry would have perished. This nearly 
happened in 1874 and 1875 when the refineries were in a 
bad way. The kerosene supply exceeded the demand 
owing to there being too many competing refineries which 
failed to consume all the crude produced. Prices improved 
in 1876, and the producing industry proceeded on the usual 
lines till 1878, when it had to face the third crisis during 
the days of its juvenility. 

Till the end of 1883, when traffic was opened on the 
Transcaucasian between Baku and Batoum, the monthly 
production of the oil fields was unequally distributed during 
the year. This was due to the industry depending on a 
single route — the Caspian Sea — for the export of its pro- 
ducts. Transport by sea at that time only being practicable 
from March to October, the output generally increased 
during the intervening period. During the winter months 
only a few refiners, those provided with storage facilities, 
continued to work ; the others stopped. The difference 
was not so great under the contract regime, the output 



IMPROVEMENTS. 1872— 1880. 



71 



being so very small. In 1870, when Balakhani produced 
1,482,100 poods, the monthly returns were as follows : — 





Poods. 


Per cent. 




Poods. 


Per cent. 


January .. 


. 91,463 


.. 6-17 


July ... 


150,480 


.. lo'iS 


February 


100,648 


•• 679 


August 


149,550 


.. lO'IO 


March 


. 120,226 


.. 8-II 


Sept. ... 


123,043 


.. 8-30 


April 


120,501 


.. 8-12 


Oct. ... 


I33>569 


.. 8-99 


May 


. 146,483 


.. 9-62 


Nov. ... 


127,178 


.. 8-6o 


June 


110,425 


•• 7-45 


Deo. ... 


ii2,igo 


•• 7-57 



The difference became more accentuated with the in- 
auguration of the new era of unfettered development. 
Monthly returns for the period are not available, but taking 
into consideration that the producing industry entirely 
depended on the working of the refineries, we can roughly 
arrive at the respective equivalents if we base our calcu- 
lations on the excise returns of that period. For the 
1873-1877 period these, according to Mr. S. Gulishambarov 
were equal to an average crude oil production of 5 '20 per 
cent, January; 570 per cent., February; 770 per cent., 
March ; 8'20 per cent., April ; 9-40 per cent,. May ; 
1 1 "So per cent., June ; 1 1 per cent., July ; I2"30 per cent., 
August ; 1 1 "30 per cent., September ; 8 per cent., October ; 
4' 50 per cent., November ; 5 per cent., December, 

The manner in which American imports of illuminating 
oil into Russia were affected by the growth of the home 
industry is clearly shown in the following table : — 





Imported from 
America. 


Produced at 

Baku. 

In poods. 


Quantity used 
in Russia. 


I87I . 


.. 1,720,418 


380,000 


2,100,418 


1872 


•• 1.790,334 • 


40,000 


., 2,190,334 


1873 


.. 2,701,093 


832,800 . 


• 3,533,893 


1874 


.. 2,524,160 


• 1.336,675 . 


.. 3.860,835 


1875 


,, 8,653,126 


. 1,990,045 . 


•• 4,643.171 


1876 


., 2,662,486 . 


• 3.145.075 • 


5,807,561 


1877 


.. 1,701,502 


• 4,594.766 . 


.. 6,296,268 



78 BAKU. 





Imported from 
America. 


Produced at 

Baku. 

In poods. 


Quantity used 
in Russia. 


1878 . 


.. 1,989,034 .. 


. 6,255,910 


.. 8,244,944 


1879 . 


.. 1,711,811 


. 6,963,658 . 


.. 8,675,469 


1880 , 


... 1,445,558 .. 


. 7.858,750 . 


.. 9,304,308 



Total 20,899,532 33.757.679 54.657.301 

* « * * 

There must have been some able, even brilliant, oil men 
at Baku. They surmounted incredible difficulties, broke 
away from the established traditions of the business, and 
placed the industry on a sounder footing. The unexpected 
abolition of the contract system found them unprepared ; 
but, notwithstanding this fact, and although many of them 
had not a reliable market for their production in prospect, 
even at the time when the price of oil fell from forty-five to 
two copecks per pood, they energetically started to develop 
their properties, until, in the third year (1875), they had a 
production which exceeded that of the period (1832-1850) 
when the oil fields were worked by the Government. In 
the following year the production amounted to 11,000,000 
poods, and in 1877 to 15,000,000 poods. In September, 
1 877, enterprise was encouraged by the abolition of the tax 
levied on the refining branch of the industry. In 1875 
producers and refiners were complaining that it was impos- 
sible to pioperly develop the industry while they were tied 
down by the excise tax on the photogen industry. One 
Government commission after another was appointed, but 
with no more satisfactory result than the making of slight 
changes in the fixing of the tax. The men on the com. 
mission were without experience in the production or 
refining of oil, and when their reports came before the 
experienced members of the Caucasian Branch of the 
Russian Imperial Technical Society they were severely 



IMPROVEMENTS. 1872— 1880. 79 

criticised. These reports were submitted to the head- 
quarters of the society in St. Petersburg. The St. Peters- 
burg Society appointed a special commission, which agreed 
with the Caucasian Branch that the excise tax must be 
abolished. When all reports, official and unofficial, had 
reached the Minister of Finance, he despatched Professor 
Mendeleiev to investigate the American industry, and 
ordered Professor Lisenko to look into matters in the Cau- 
casian oil region. These experts submitted reports favour- 
able to the abolition of the tax on the petroleum industry. 
Professor Mendeleiev quoted American precedents. He 
advocated the cancellation and improvement of parts of 
the petroleum regulations relating to safeguards against 
fires, and the storage and transport of oil ; the thorough 
investigation of Caucasian oils with a view to extracting 
lubricating oils ; the consumption of oil and astatki as 
fuel ; the extraction of the more valuable products from 
the oil ; the fuller investigation of the geological con- 
ditions of the oil fields ; and, finally, the collection of 
complete and up-to-date statistics and the publication of 
monthly reports on the petroleum industries of the 
Caucasus as well as of America. 

The Viceroy of the Caucasus also thought that the 
abolition of the tax would be a useful and desirable step. 
The Minister of Finance, concurring in the opinion of the 
Grand Duke, submitted a favourable report to the Imperial 
Council, and the opinion of this authority, meeting with 
the Emperor's approval on July Sth, 1877, the tax was 
abolished on September ist of the same year. (The total 
revenue of the Crown from the excise tax in Baku between 
1873 and 1877 amounted to ;£" 120,000.) From that day 
the industry in all its branches advanced by leaps and 
bounds in spite of frequent labour upheavals and market 



8o 



BAKU. 



troubles. In 1878 the output increased to 20,000,000 poods, 
in 1879 to 24,000,000 poods, and in 1880 to close on 
25,000,000 poods. The exports during the period under 
review were : 



1873 


832,800 pood 


1874 


1,336,675 „ 


1875 - - 


1,990,041 „ 


1876 


3.145.075 ,. 


1877 


4.594.766 „ 


1878 


6,355,910 „ 


1879 


7,814,531 „ 


1880 


15,300,000 ,, 



These refer to exports by sea, because at that time only- 
small quantities left Baku by land for Transcaucasia and 
Persia. 

Had the demand been anything like equal to the possi- 
bilities of the oil fields the production could in 1 879 have 
been brought up to over 60,000,000 poods, an output only 
obtained four years later in 1883. There were, at the 
beginning of 1879, twenty-eight producing wells, which, 
excluding the two prolific spouters, yielded on an average 
3,000 poods per day each. At the Saboonchi-Ramani- 
Zabrat properties there were forty-three producers with an 
average daily yield of 2,500 poods each, and at Bibi-Eibat, 
Surakhani, &c., twenty-eight producers, with^an average 
daily yield of 383 poods, or a total of ninety-nine wells 
capable of producing 900,000 poods per day. Therefore, 
had the Baku oil fields been worked 300 days only during 
the year, and not as in America, day and night all the year 
round, Balakhani could have produced in that year 
25,200,000 poods, Saboonchi-Ramani-Zabrat 32,250,000 
poods, and the other regions 3,217,000 poods, or a total 
of 60,657,000 poods, had there been an adequate demand 



IMPROVEMENTS. 1872— 1880. 81 

for Russian oil, and the means for delivering it in the 
country or abroad. In 1873 America produced about 
76,677,000 poods (9,893,786 barrels) and in 1879 had 
increased this output to iSS,33S,ooo poods (19,914,146 
barrels). 



CHAPTER VIII. 

THE NOBELS AND RUSSIAN OIL. 

THE START TWENTY-FIVE YEARS AGO — REMARKABLE FIGURES — FIRST 
IN THE WORLD FOR PRODUCTION — EMMANUEL NOBEL, THE 
FATHER, HIS WORK, INVENTIONS, AND FAILURE IN RUSSIA — 
ALFRED, THE INVENTOR OF GUNS AND DYNAMITE — HIS FAMOUS 
PEACE PRIZE — ROBERT NOBEL'S FIRST JOURNEY TO BAKU — A 
SMALL REFINERY PURCHASED — FIRST PIPE LINE — PIONEERS OF 
DEEP DRILLING AT BALAKHANI. 

The largest and most important concern at Baku is that 
of Nobel Brothers, a world-famous name — famous for its 
present wealth and vast industrial possessions, but most of 
all, for the manner in which the two Swedes, Robert and 
Ludwig, revolutionised every branch of the Russian oil 
industry as well as for the scientific and military discoveries 
of Alfred Nobel, the world-famous philanthropist and 
founder of the Nobel peace and other prizes. 

During a quarter of a century they have drilled some ' 
five hundred wells of an aggregate depth of more than 
100 miles, and from these they have extracted from 
19,000,000 to 20,000,000 tons of oil. The average in recent 
years has been just over 1,000,000 tons, or about one-tenth 
of the total production of Baku, but in one or two years 
they have had a production of 1,500,000 tons. They have 
five refineries and six auxiliary plants at which they pro- 
duce their own sulphuric acid and soda. The refineries 
have produced over 20,000,000 tons of petroleum products 
during twenty-five years. 

Last year they paid away ;f950,000 to railways for 



THE NOBELS AND RUSSIAN OIL. 83 

freights, over £6,000 to foreign shipowners, over £295,000 
to Caspian shipowners, close on ;^ 16,000 to Black Sea ship- 
owners, over ;^33S,ooo to Volga shipowners, and £125,000 
on the Don and Oko rivers, making a total of over 
£1,072,000. They paid ;£^i,ioo,ooo in excise. They also 
applied £142,279 to amortisation, and ;£'43,873 to the 
redemption of debentures. After allocating large amounts 
to other purposes, including bonuses aggregating close on 
£60,000 to the board and employes, they distributed 
£150,000, or a ten per cent, dividend, amongst the 
shareholders. 

There are at the oil fields of this company 3,800 
employes, of which number one hundred are in the offices. 
At the Baku refineries and workshops there are 3,615, 
including 1 10 at the offices. The crews on the Caspian, 
Volga, and other river fleets number 2,300, including 250 
officers. Altogether the company employ 12,135 hands, 
and pay over £500,000 in salaries and regular wages. For 
production this company stands first in the world, and is 
only second to the Standard in the refining and distributing 
branches of the petroleum industry. 

* * * * 

Emmanuel Nobel, father of the founders, was born on 
March 24th, 1801, in Hevel, Sweden. Trained as an 
architect, he became a teacher of drawing and geometry, 
and was a founder of the Technological Institute at Stock- 
holm. He submitted to the Government of his country 
a new design for soldier's rubber knapsacks, convertible 
into supports for pontoons in military bridge-making work, 
and a quick-firing rifle of his own make. He invented a 
submarine mine, which, in 1837, was tested on the Okhta, 
with the result that the Russian Government paid him 
£2,500 on condition that he undertook to remain in Russia 

G 2 



84 BAKU. 

and erect works for the manufacture of mines. Together 
with General Ogarevhe erected a small machine shop, but, 
getting a large order from the Government for submarine 
mines, he (in 1846) found it advisable to erect more exten- 
sive works at St. Petersburg. He equipped the Cronstadt 
workshops with machinery and lathes, and supplied the 
first central water-heating plant — a Nobel invention. On 
the outbreak of the Crimean war he was entrusted with the 
work of protecting the Cronstadt and Sveaborg fortresses by 
mines against attacks by fleets of the allies. This he 
accomplished with the assistance of his son Robert. During 
the second year of the war Emmanuel obtained a Govern- 
ment order for the construction of marine engines for the 
navy, and the Vola and Gangut, in the Baltic, and the two- 
decker Retvizan, in the Mediterranean, were amongst the 
vessels equipped by the Nobels. Mr. N. I. Puttilov, 
securing a Government contract for the construction of a 
hundred gunboats, fourteen corvettes, and six clippers, he 
applied for assistance to the Nobels, and managed in one 
year to deliver all the engines and boilers for the Vol, 
Volk, and Vepr. 

Having made his works one of the leading enterprises 
of the kind in Russia, Emmanuel found himself without 
private means and a legacy of debt. Owing to a change 
in the Government, orders for the navy were placed 
abroad. He tried to get along on private orders, con- 
structing fifty Volga steamers for the Kavkaz and Mercury, 
Samolet, and other companies, building the first engines 
for screw steamers, then being introduced for the first time 
and inaugurating steamboat communication between St. 
Petersburg and the islands and Schlusselburg. Speaking 
in a general way, Emmanuel closely followed the engineer- 
ing progress in the West, and took an active part in solving 



THE NOBELS AND RUSSIAN OIL. 85 

scientific and engineering problems by his independent 
practical work. Thus, for instance, he worked a great deal 
on the improvement of the crank engine and its applica- 
tion to the propulsion of small vessels. Many parts of the 
outfit of the works, including a five-ton steam hammer, 
were constructed on the spot, while every article turned out 
excelled both from the engineering point of view as well as 
in the matter of perfect finish. 

The business side of the enterprises got into a bad way, 
and eventually he was compelled to suspend work and 
declare himself insolvent. Having lost all his funds, 
he returned to Sweden, where he resumed the study of 
explosives, and started, together with his sons, a small 
factory for the manufacture of blasting materials. He 
died in 1872, leaving his family almost penniless. 

Emmanuel Nobel had four sons. Emil, the youngest, 
died at the age of twenty-eight. Alfred became a famous 
engineer and inventor ; Robert was the first to draw the 
attention of the Nobel family to trade openings at Baku, 
and Ludwig was the famous pioneer of the Russian 
petroleum industry. Alfred, born on October 21st, 1833, 
and educated in St. Petersburg, evinced a special liking for 
chemistry. After carefully studying the subject under the 
direct guidance of Zinin, the famous Russian academician, 
he worked in foreign laboratories and did a great deal of 
successful work in applied chemistry. He was granted the 
title of Doctor of Chemistry honoris causa. He was one 
of the most prolific inventors. The invention which made 
his name a household word in every country related to the 
manufacture of dynamite and smokeless powders. Interest- 
ing himself in the industrial application of nitro-glycerine, 
invented in 1845 by Sobrero, Alfred, with his father and 
brothers, constructed at Krummel (near Hamburg) the first 



86 BAKU. 

works for the manufacture of this explosive. It soon 
became evident that the transport of nitro-glycerine was 
too dangerous on account of its fluidity and liability to 
spontaneous ignition from jolting. Catastrophes due to 
the explosion of nitro-glycerine during transport becoming 
frequent, its import was prohibited by nearly all Govern- 
ments. Persevering, Alfred grasped the idea of solidifying 
nitro-glycerine, and, using sand for this purpose, he 
obtained a compound which could only be exploded by 
means of a special capsule. Dynamite quickly obtained 
universal application for blasting in mines and quarries, 
and numerous works for its manufacture were soon 
established in every part of the world. 

He next invented explosive gelatin, a kind of gelatinised 
dynamite. These Nobel explosives have played an 
important part in the mining and engineering trades of 
the world. It was with the aid of Mr. Nobel's inventions 
that the St. Gothard tunnel was completed three years in 
advance of the estimated period, and an economy of about 
£750,000 was effected. Another invention by Alfred 
Nobel was smokeless powder, used for military purposes 
in Italy, Germany, England, and other countries. When 
the Russian company was formed in 1879, Alfred was 
induced by his brothers to become one of the founders. 
Although he did not take an active part in the manage- 
ment, he rendered invaluable assistance with his capital and 
his advice as an authority on applied chemistry on various 
technical points connected with the treatment of oil. He 
died on December 7th, 1 896. 

Almost his whole fortune (;^2,ooo,ooo in Consols and 
secured stocks) was willed away for the formation of the 
fund through the medium of which premiums are annually 
distributed amongst those who render the greatest service 



x':^;^ 




Thi, Lai'f, 
Mr. Li"h\\"i(; Xor.EL. 



Ill hii day the Oil King 
of thu Caucasus. 



Mr. G. M. Liaxosov. 

Til.- i/^ivlii of Baku "il men, arbitral 
in many disputes, and one of the mc 
generous of philanthropists. 




[■/■o/na/ni'fSe. 



THE NOBELS AND RUSSIAN OIL. 87 

to the human race. The interest goes in five equal parts, 
thus — the first for the most important discovery in physics, 
the second in chemistry, the third in physiology and 
medicine, the fourth for the best literary work of idealistic 
description, and the fifth to the man who renders the most 
signal service in bringing the nations together as evidenced 
by the abolition or reduction of militarism and the estab- 
lishment of congresses for the propagation of the principles 
of international peace. The premiums for physics and 
chemistry are adjudged by the Swedish Academy of 
Science ; for physiology and medicine by the Caroline 
Academy of Medicine and Surgery at Stockholm ; for 
literature by the Literary Academy at Stockholm ; arid for 
services in the interests of peace by a committee of five 
elected by the Storthing of Norway. The prizes are 
given entirely on merit, without reference to nationality 
or sex. 

Robert Nobel was born on August 4th, 1829, in Stock- 
holm, where he received his education. When his father 
returned to Sweden, Robert also left Russia, but in i860 
he returned and erected, a nitro-glycerine factory in Finland. 
When the manufacture of this explosive was prohibited by 
the Senate of Finland on account of the frequent accidents, 
Robert once more returned to Sweden, where he occupied 
important positions at the nitro-glycerine works of his 
father and brother. At the invitation of his brother 
Ludwig he returned to St. Petersburg in 1870. Ludwig, 
securing a contract for the manufacture of rifles at the 
Izhev, the question arose as to whether it would be prac- 
ticable to replace imported nutwood in the manufacture of 
rifle stocks by a home-grown variety only obtainable in 
quantity in the Caucasus. This necessitated forest exploita- 
tion, the building of special saw-mills, the organisation of 



88 BAKU. 

a convenient and cheap water transport, and the erection 
of drying plants and stores. The carrying but of the 
scheme in Transcaucasia was entrusted to Robert. His 
journey to the Caucasus bore fruit in another direction. 
Failing to develop the timber scheme, he returned to 
St. Petersburg in 1873, when he drew attention to the 
importance of the petroleum industry, which had attracted 
his attention as he passed through Baku on his way to 
Persia. Being anxious to get into oil, he succeeded in 
interesting his brother Ludwig and in prevailing on him to 
assist in the promotion of a small petroleum enterprise. 
He returned to the Caucasus, where, during 1875 and 1876, 
he did all the pioneering work. 

He believed in the great possibilities and future of the 
petroleum industry, but this did not prevent him from 
seeing the weak points of the Baku methods. In 1875 
he acquired from the Tiflis Company a small refinery 
in Black Town, for which he paid a modest ;^ 1,000. 
Reconstructing this, he introduced improvements in the 
treatment of oil. Just previous to the acquisition of the 
refinery, he had secured a few oil properties at which he 
had started to drill. 

As soon as Robert began to refine the crude from 
Balakhani he recognised that the practice of carrying oil 
in barrels was slow, wasteful and expensive. The other 
firms refused to co-operate in a pipe-line project, and 
Ludwig had to be applied to. For £10,000 a pipe was 
laid down from Balakhani to the Black Town, and the fact 
that it paid expenses the first year gave Robert and Lud- 
wig a widespread reputation, and encouraged other firms 
to do the same. In this way they laid the foundation of 
modern activity and enterprise at Baku. 

Thousands of barrelled-oil carriers, said at that time to 



THE NOBELS AND RUSSIAN OIL. 89 

be earning about £iso,cxx> a year, found their occupation 
gone. So great was the feeling against the Nobels that 
the pipe line was cut, and numerous watch-houses had 
to be built for its protection. To-day the Nobel line lies 
amongst a score of others. If the Baku-Saboonchi train 
stops near the pipes, you can hear the irregular beat and 
throb of the swirling oil as it passes along to the refineries. 

The Nobels were the pioneers of deep drilling. They 
secured their own oil plots, imported Pennsylvanian 
drillers, whose methods were not successful, and invented 
a composite drilling rig, which has been the model for all 
subsequent systems that have done good work in the 
Baku fields. Their oil fields, like their refinery, gradually 
became the greatest in Baku ; no company can claim to 
have done more to develop the oil-carrying trade on the 
Caspian Sea ; they have drilled for oil on Holy and 
Tcheleken Islands, started the new field at Berekei, 
and sent their drillers to some of the most promising 
regions in the hills ; and they have not only worked in 
friendly union with Anglo-Russian refining and producing 
companies, but they have, acting with Rothschild, given 
this country the greatest Russian oil-distributing concern 
it possesses — the Consolidated Petroleum Company, Ltd, 

The history of the Nobel family, written fully, would 
have an interest for all who admire the triumphs of genius 
in trade, associated with perfect honour and integrity. 
Marvin wrote about millionaires at a time (1887) when there 
were fewer in oil than there are to-day. What he said is 
worth quoting : 

" Giants in their own narrow money-grubbing domain, 
they are insignificant, and too often contemptible, out of it. 
Men enriched by shoddy, by patent pills, by sharp practice 



go BAKU. 

on the Stock Exchange, and other modes of spoiling the 
public, are not worthy of much notice, and the less litera- 
ture has to say about them the better. But there are 
millionaires and millionaires." 

All of which is true to-day, in oil and out of it. As 
Marvin says, no shoddy feature is to be found in Ludwig 
Nobel's career. The success of the company is due to the 
genius that planned a vast transport organisation, the 
engineering skill that carried it into effect, and the integrity 
that raised the quality of the product transported from 
a debased and despised condition, crushed by foreign 
superiority, to a position fit to compete in turn with that 
superiority and overcome it. Obviously only a man of 
rare and remarkable talents could have done what 
Ludwig Nobel achieved, and we are Anglo-Saxon enough 
to say that the written eulogies of the Nobels are none the 
less deserved because they were Swedes working in a 
country where many of our enterprises have been such 
disastrous failures that they have brought British methods 
and ability perilously near to disrepute. 

Here is a story which bears on my reference to the 
nationality of the Nobels. A visitor, after having been 
courteously shown over the works of Nobel, said to 
the manager : 

" Your organisation is splendid ; it is perfect ; but there 
is one thing that provokes my regret — what a pity it is not 
Russian." 

" Russian or Swede, what does it matter " (was the charac- 
teristic reply), "so long as Russia gets good, cheap oil? 
You say the Baku firms dislike us. We cannot help that ; 
but if you can find in Baku any man who can prove 



THE NOBELS AND RUSSIAN OIL. 91 

we are dishonest, cheat, adulterate, or refuse to redress 
substantial grievances, we will face an enquiry in your 
presence, and, if guilty, make amends." 

To-day the great founders have been gathered to their 
fathers, but the company lives, worked by men who, 
employing genius and honesty, keep it in premier position, 
and make it the popular leader in all movements for the 
improvement, and, in the present crisis, for the reconstruc- 
tion of the industry at Baku. 



CHAPTER IX. 
THE GREAT SPOUTERS OF 1881 — 1890. 

GOLDEN AND SHAITAN BAZAARS TO THE FRONT — A GLUT OF OIL — 
NOBEL'S first SPOUTER — ERUPTION OF GAS STOPS WORK AT 
BALAKHANI-^OIL FIELD SURPRISES — ADVANTAGES OF A SOUND 

ORGANISATION — A SPOUTER ON EXHIBITION THE DROOZHBA 

CATASTROPHE — OWNERS GO BANKRUPT — GOVERNMENT INTER- 
VENES — THE IMPRESSIONS OF PROFESSOR ENGLER AND COLONEL 
STEWART — FIRST PROLIFIC SPOUTERS OF [bIBI-EIBAT — BALAKHANI 
SENSATION — THE MINING COMPANY'S SPOUTER — WELL GUARDED 
BY COSSACKS. 

In the next period, 1 881-1890, the record for spouters 
was maintained. The most prolific producers were brought 
in during 1883, 1886, and 1887. 

The Mnatzakanov well (plot 9, Saboonchi), beginning 
in 1 88 1 to exhibit indications of the exhaustion of the 
294 ft. stratum, was deepened to 434 ft., where oil was again 
struck. Although the upper end of the casing had been 
thoroughly strengthened and a strong cap fixed, the 
pressure was too enormous to be resisted for any length 
of time, and the sand-charged oil broke through. From 
September 13th to November ist 8oo,OCX3 poods were sold 
for 18,000 roubles (;^ 1,800). The well was then got under 
control, and in the following year, from February 19th to 
the close of navigation, yielded 4,500,000 poods, which 
realised 86,000 roubles (£8,600). In the winter the flow 
declined, but only to restart with redoubled fury in 
February, 1884. The loss of oil was insignificant, the 
owner having provided adequate storage. The oil was 



THE GREAT SPOUTERS OF 1881— 1890. 93 

up to April, 1882, of "876 specific gravity, which in the 
subsequent period increased to "881. 

In this year Krasilnikov brought in two spouters. The 
drilling of one in Group XVI. at Shaitan Bazaar was started 
as early as 1877, but, for obvious reasons, Krasilnikov did 
not hurry it on to a completion. Work was continued at 
intervals till 1881, when, at a depth of 278 ft., sand shot up 
the tube and oil followed at the rate of 35,000 poods a day, 
the gravity being between '850 and "851. It took eleven 
days to fix a cap, and in that time 200,000 poods ran to 
waste. Once under control, it gave an abundant supply 
for fifteen months. The second spouter, also at Saboonchi, 
was from the depth of 504 ft. The daily run amounted 
to 20,000 poods, and the total flow to from 10,000,000 to 
12,000,000 poods. Only a third was sold as fuel and 
the remainder was turned into Saboonchi Lake. On 
September 3rd the spouter caught fire, and flared with 
terrific fury for ten days. When the flames were subdued 
spouting recommenced. 

Another phenomenal spouter at Shaitan Bazaar was 
No. 2 well of Orbelov Brothers. Drilled by manual 
labour, it was started in 1877 ^^^ completed in 1881, with 
a 10^ ft. diameter in the 490 ft. oil stratum. In a week it 
gave 1,000,000 poods. The column of oil was over 200 ft. 
high, and a strong wind carried the spray 500 yards to the 
offices of the Baku Oil Company, the manager of which 
lodged a complaint against the Orbelovs on the ground 
that his property was in serious danger of catching fire. 
The oil flowed into a marshy hollow, where it was set on 
fire. When the spouter ceased playing the casing was 
found to have been ruined, and the well was abandoned. 

Balakhani also had its spouter in 1 88 1 . Lianozov Brothers 
brought this in at No. 9 well. Group VII. (taken over by 



94 BAKU. 

the Russian Oil Company in 1896). The oil was struck at 
329 ft., with a 12 in. pipe. The spouter played for three 
months, and threw up 1,800,000 poods, the greater part of 
which went into reservoirs. 

In 1882 the No. 8 well of the Soutchastniki Company 
was brought in a spouter from 476 ft. with a 10 in. diameter. 
A cap could not be fixed before the sixth day. The 
flow, which lasted twenty days, produced 2,000,000 poods, 
of which 400,000 poods were sold and 1,300,000 poods 
lost. The well proved one of the most productive at 
Balakhani. 

Hitherto notoriously unlucky in the matter of strikes, 
Nobels brought in a spouter (No. 25 well) when it was 
least wanted. During the summer (188 1) it started to spout 
sand over 200 ft. high, and on the source being tapped at 
582 ft., the sudden outburst of the oil carried away a ton of 
boring gear. When the engineers cleared the tube of sand 
the oil spouted so furiously that, not being prepared for a 
spouter, and the market being weak, they fixed a cap and 
kept the oil in reserve, just as they have frequently done 
in recent years when engaged in pioneering work in 
new fields. 

The same year the Mining Company (acquired by 
Mantascheff in 1896) had a spouter from 450 ft. In 
September it spouted 100,000 poods in twelve days ; in 
December, 300,000 poods in six days, and early in January, 
1883, 100,000 poods in two and a half days. Of the total 
yield, 500,000 poods, only 160,000 poods were sold, at 
l-copeck per pood (about ■iia!'. the ton). 

The Baku Oil Company struck oil about the same time, 
at 305 ft. with a 12 in. diameter. Two million poods came 
to the surface, and most of it was sold at 3J. Sd. per ton. 

The year 1883 was remarkable for spouters. Lianozov 



THE GREAT SPOUTERS OF 1881— 1890. 95 

had two producers on his property, Group VII. The 
first spouter was at No. 15, where work was started in 
November, 1882, and completed in May, 1883, with a 
i2-in. pipe. At 420 ft. there was a terrific gas blow out, 
repeated at 490 ft., the oil each time mounting to the 
surface, but disappearing when the cap was pushed over 
the mouth of the well. The third time, when the drill was 
down 546 ft., the gas explosion was terrific, the zhelonka 
(bailer) shooting up through the top of the derrick. 
Afterwards dry sand spouted with terrific force to a height 
of from 3 50 ft. to 4CX) ft. Rocks were hurled out of sight ; the 
windows of the neighbouring engine sheds were smashed, 
and the iron roof of a boiler-house collapsed beneath the 
weight of falling stones. This "sand volcano" lasted 
forty-five minutes, and was succeeded by a blow out of 
gas, which poisoned the atmosphere at Balakhani the rest 
of the day, very much in the same way that gas has since 
driven the workmen off some of the oil fields of Texas. 
After considerable trouble the cap was pushed into 
position. The pressure of the oil and gas was shortly 
afterwards relieved by a second icin. well, which, 16 ft. 
deeper, struck the stratum feeding the No. 15 well, and 
provided another outlet for the imprisoned gas. Both 
wells were full of oil, and spouted whenever the caps were 
removed. The owner benefited little by his success owing 
to the market being slack. 

The Nazaret spouter (No. 32, Saboonchi) was a striking 
example of the uncertainties attending oil well boring. 
The well was commenced by Abayantz and Company in 
1879, o"ly manual power being used, and by the end of 
1 89 1 581 ft. had been reached without any indications 
of oil. Despairing of success, the owners left the well 
untouched for a couple of years, when they leased it to 



96 BAKU. 

Nazaret, the head of a private company, consisting of 
, Tumaieff and several other Armenians, on condition that 
he was to drill at his own expense and allow Abayantz 
and Company half the profits if he struck oil. Nazaret, 
drilling seven feet deeper, touched a reservoir and the sand 
began to spout. The tube was a loin. one, diminishing to 
7j in. in diameter, and soon became clogged. After a 
fortnight spent in digging away the sand shoal at the 
mouth of the tube, he effected a clearance and oil spouted 
freely. About 8(X),ooo poods were ejected, of which a 
great deal was sold for fuel. The casing, however, was 
ruined, and the well abandoned. 

A larger spouter was brought in by Mirzoiev, from his 
No. 14 well completed with a 14 in. diameter. Oil was 
reached at 441 ft, and spouted from 5,000 to 10,000 poods 
a day, increasing to 100,000 poods, but falling back again 
to 10,000 poods. Altogether it produced during the 
summer 2,500,000 poods, of which 1,500,000 poods were 
delivered at Mirzoiev's Baku refinery and the rest stored in 
a lake, from which it was sold for fuel. 

A remarkable spouter in the vicinity of the famous 
Droozhba well was Nobel's No. 9. From 642 ft. it threw up 
in a month 7,500,000 poods of oil. The column rose to a 
height of 200 ft., the oil and sand covering the ground within 
a radius of 200 ft. of the derrick. Never was the advantage 
of a thorough organisation better demonstrated than in 
connection with this spouter. It repaid Nobels for many 
failures. Every precaution had been taken to deal success- 
fully with an abundant supply. Only 250,000 poods were 
lost out of the 7,500,000 erupted, and of the latter 5,000,000 
poods were immediately forwarded to the refinery and 
converted into kerosene and other products, while the 
remainder went into the reservoirs. All attempts to get 



THE GREAT SPOUTERS OF 1881— 1890. 97 

control of the well failed, and it remained " untamed " for six 
weeks, until, in fact, the initial force of the eruption had 
naturally subsided. In the face of incredible difficulties a 
platform was erected over the well and a mast driven 
down the bore hole by means of a battering ram. Even 
then the well maintained a flow of over 4,000 poods per hour. 

Some time after the Droozhba calamity, Admiral Shest- 
akov, the Minister of Marine, visited Baku, and Nobels 
decided to show him a " wild " spouter. When he arrived 
the covering of No. 9 was removed, and the heavy boiler 
plate over the mouth of the bore hole pushed aside, when, 
with a terrific roar, the oil cleft the air, with a hissing 
sound, to a height of 200 ft. The derrick, trembling 
and tottering, looked very much like collapsing, but in less 
than ten minutes His Excellency indicated that he had 
seen enough, and the performance came to an end when the 
drillers pushed the cap over the well without the slightest 
trouble. 

In those days gagged wells were one of the great sights 
of the Caucasus. Marvin was shown a deserted derrick in 
which, he was told, a cap kept down with the grip of a 
vice millions of poods of oil in its source 600 ft. to 700 ft. 
beneath the surface. The first caps, 3 in. boiler plates, were 
completely worn into shreds by the irresistible grinding 
action of the sand-charged blast. It was this circumstance 
which led to the invention of a special cap fitted with 
sliding valves, which is capable of holding the most power- 
ful of spouters in check if it can only be fitted on the head 
of the casing in time. On removing the slide of the cap 
there is a furious blow out, followed by the projection 
of oil to a considerable height, but this is easily sup- 
pressed by gradually pushing the slide across the mouth 
of the well. 

B. H 



98 BAKU. 

Another Nobel spouter, No. 25, produced nearly 
500,000 poods of oil daily from a depth of 582 ft, the gauge 
recording a pressure of about 200 pounds to the square inch. 
The flow eventually declined to 250,000 poods per day at 
the beginning of the following year. 

However, the sensation of the year, a well whose fame 
spread to every part of the world, although it brought 
nothing but mortification and ruin to its owners, was the 
Droozhba spouter, named after its owners, the Droozhba 
(Friendship) Company. The calamity which befell the 
company was largely due to an accident. The head of the 
casing had been well strengthened, and a cap fixed in good 
time when oil was struck at 574 ft. The pressure, as in the 
case of Nobel's No. 9, was over thirteen atmospheres as 
compared with the maximum of four atmospheres recorded 
on previous occasions. Still, it was kept down by the casing 
and cap. It was only while the cap was being improved 
and strengthened under the supervision of Garsoiev, the 
drilling engineer in charge of the well, that the chained 
giant broke loose, blew off the cap, and shot 300 ft. into the 
air. There was no human possibility of regaining control of 
the spouter, and in a few minutes the sand-charged oil — a 
liquid grinder penetrating in time the thickest iron plate — 
had ground to pulp the huge beams on the top of the 
derrick, and caused havoc and destruction over a wide 
area. 

Starting on August 19th, the flow continued unchecked 
till December loth. It started with a flow variously 
estimated at between 400,000 and 500,000 poods per day, 
and, according to an avowedly low estimate, made by the 
owner of adjacent properties, threw up in the 1 14 days it 
was in action 13,640,000 poods or 220,000 tons. Some even 
estimate the waste at 30,000,000 poods. 







<m'^ 



THE RIGHT IS A DERRICK UKbTROVED BV A SPOUTEi;. THE OTHER PHOTU 
SHOWS A SPOUTING WELL IN ACTION. 



[ 7\> face page gS. 



THE GREAT SPOUTERS OF 1881— 1890. 99 

"In Pennsylvania that spouter would have made its 
owner's fortune ; there's ;f S,ooo worth of oil flowing out of 
the well every day ; and yet it has made the owner a 
bankrupt ! " said an American petroleum engineer. Mr. 
Marvin, who recorded the exclamation, added his own 
opinion. " Out of the well," he wrote, "the oil was flying 
the height of the Great Geyser in Iceland, with a roar that 
could be heard several miles round. The fountain was a 
splendid spectacle — it was the largest Baku had witnessed 
till then. When the first blow out occurred, the oil had 
knocked off the roof and part of the sides of the derrick, 
but there was a beam left at the top, against which the oil 
broke with a roar in its upward course, and which served 
in a measure to check its velocity. The derrick itself was 
70 ft. high, and the oil and the sand, after bursting 
through the roof and sides, flowed fully three times higher, 
forming a greyish-black fountain, the column clearly 
defined on the southern side, but merging into a cloud ol 
spray thirty yards broad on the other. A strong southerly 
wind enabled us to approach within a few yards of the 
crater on the former side and to look down into the 
sandy basin formed round about the bottom of the derrick, 
where the oil was bubbling and seething round the stalk of 
the oil shoot like a geyser. The diameter of the tube up 
which the oil was rushing was 10 inches. On issuing 
from this, the fountain formed a clearly defined stem 
about 18 in. thick, and shot up to the top of the 
derrick, where in striking against the beam, which was 
already worn half through by the friction, it broadened 
out a little. Thence continuing its course more than 
200 ft. high, it curled over and fell in a dense cloud to 
the ground on the north side, forming a sand bank, over 
which the olive-coloured oil ran in innumerable channels 

H 2 



loo BAKU. 

towards the lakes of oil that had formed on the sur- 
rounding properties. Now and again the sand flowing up 
with the oil would obstruct the pipe, or a stone would 
clog the course; then the column would sink for a few 
seconds lower than 200 ft., to rise directly afterwards with 
a burst and a roar to 200 ft. Throughout the previous 
day a north wind had been blowing, causing the oil and 
sand to fall in a contrary direction from that pursued 
while we were there. Some idea of the mass of matter 
thrown up from the well could be formed by a glance at 
the damage done on the south side in twenty-four hours — 
a vast shoal of sand having been formed, which had buried 
to the roof some stores and shops, and had blocked to the 
height of 6 ft. or 7 ft. all the neighbouring derricks within a 
distance of 50 yards. Some of the sand and oil had been 
carried by the wind nearly 100 yards from the spouter — 
the sand-drenched roofs of the adjacent buildings showing 
how far the cloud of matter had extended. From this 
outer boundary, where the oil lay an inch or so deep on 
the ground, the sand shoal rose gradually, until near the 
rim of the crater it was about 20 ft. deep, the surface being 
hard and soddened, and intersected with small channels 
along which the oil was draining off to the lakes. On the 
opposite side a new shoal was forming, and we could see 
the sand as it fell drifting round the neighbouring derricks 
and burying all the outhouses in the way. Here and 
there gangs of men were at work with wooden spades, 
digging and clearing channels round about the mouth of 
the well, to enable the oil to flow away. Their task was 
no easy or agreeable one. Upon their heads and shoulders 
oil and sand never ceased to fall, and they had to be 
careful to avoid being drawn into, and engulphed in the 
vortex round the base of the crater. Luckily no stones 



THE GREAT SPOUTERS OF 1881— 1890. loi 

of any size were being thrown up with the oil. Some- 
times blocks weighing several pounds are hurled up from 
the depths below, and then it becomes a dangerous matter 
to approach a spouter. Stemding on the top of the sand 
shoal, one could see \\here the oil, after flowing through a 
score of channels from the ooze, formed in the distance on 
lower ground a whole series of oil lakes, some broad 
enough and deep enough to row a boat in. Beyond this, 
the oil could be seen flowing away in a broad channel 
towards the sea." 

This magnificent spouter made its owner bankrupt ; in 
America this well would have made its owner a million- 
aire. The spouter belonged to a small Armenian company, 
with only sufficient ground on which to erect the derrick, 
and not enough to spare for the making of reservoirs. 
The oil flowed on to other properties, and the amount 
caught and saved upon the waste lands was sold at a 
price which failed to meet the claims for compensation 
put in by those whose houses and shops were engulfed 
in the sea of oil. Others suffered damage by having to 
stop work owing to the large quantities of sand thrown up 
from the well. Had the Droozhba Company owned plenty 
of land round about their well and been able to store the 
oil, they would not have been so badly off, but their well 
happened to be in the midst of several hundred other 
properties covering the Balakhani plateau, and the damage 
which it did ruined them. 

As a result of this prodigious outflow crude lost its value 
for the moment. One refiner filled his tanks with 700,000 
poods of oil for £"30. No one would give more than 
J copeck per pood (40?. the ton) for what had previously 
fetched 2 or 3 copecks. Thousands of tons were burned 



I02 BAKU. 

outside the district to get rid of it ; thousands more were 
diverted into the Caspian ; huge lakes ot oil were formed 
near the well ; and on one occasion the liquid suddenly 
flowed into an engine house, and, but for the prompt 
action of the engineer in extinguishing his furnace fires, 
the whole locality would have been in flames. 

All efforts to stop the spouter were abortive, and the 
damage to property went on unchecked, all buildings in 
the vicinity being buried by the sand thrown up with the 
oil. The indignation in Russia at the waste of oil was 
unbounded ; at Baku the well owners came together to 
discuss the best means of checking the career of the 
spouter. Finally, the Government at St. Petersburg was 
appealed to, and two engineers were sent out to Baku. 
On the loth of December the spouter suddenly stopped of 
its own accord (the pipe plugged), but after three hours it 
burst out afresh with even greater violence. A 3-in. 
boiler plate was fixed on the mouth, but this was soon 
worn to shreds and burst. At last, on the 29th of 
December, Zorge, a well owner, performed the creditable 
feat of capping it, and, in spite of a powerful movement 
of oil at the mouth of the tube, the well was kept under 
control the whole winter. When the outburst was stopped, 
a great disturbance took place in Nobel's No. 14, showing 
the connection of both wells with the same oil bed. 

For want of adequate capital and facilities the Droozhba 
Company let a million slip through their fingers and went 
bankrupt, while Yaribov, the engineer who drilled the well, 
died of a broken heart. 

Professor Engler, who visited Baku at the beginning of 
1886, when he was accompanied by Dr. Max Bohm and 
Dr. R. Jurgensen, mentions the existence of eleven spouters 
at that time. Of these, five Nobel wells were capable 



THE GREAT SPOUTERS OF 1881— 1890. 103 

of producing 160,000 poods per day, but their refinery, 
although the largest at the time, not being capable of 
handling the production, and the oil becoming useless for 
kerosene treatment owing to exposure, only 60,000 poods 
a day were withdrawn with a bailer to prevent the forma- 
tion of a plug. Another well, the Avakov spouter, was 
flowing at the rate of 100,000 poods (about 1,600 tons) per 
day. The Baku Oil Company's Kormilitza well was still 
good for from 3,700 to 5,000 poods a day. 

In the same year Palashkovski and Bunge (the Batoum 
Oil Company) had a spouter flowing for many days, to the 
disgust of its owners, at the rate of 100,000 poods per day, 
the pipe line to the White Town refinery of the company 
only being capable of dealing with 40,000 poods. When 
they regained control of the well (No. 1 1) it was bailed 
to prevent choking, and, of course, others from drawing on 
the supply. 

Colonel Stewart refers to the strange fact that, whenever 
the Avakov spouter came into play the Palashkovski well 
followed suit ten minutes later, while the No. 12 Nobel well 
not to be outdone, began ten minutes after the second one — 
a fact which clearly showed that they were all drawing from 
the same containing layers. A gale from the north-east, 
or even a northerly wind, was supposed to have the effect 
of increasing the supply of oil and spouting tendencies 
of these early wells. These keen observers also came 
to the conclusion that Baku spouters were of no earthly 
benefit to the small producer at a time when there was 
only a limited home demand and inadequate transport 
facilities. Fears were expressed as to the lasting nature 
of the oil sources, some even going the length of pre- 
dicting that these would be exhausted within the next four 
or five years. There existed at the end of 1885 a total of 



I04 BAKU. 

334 wells, of which 142 were producing, 40 exhausted, 
57 idle owing to damaged casing, 13 owing to drilling 
accidents, 73 drilling, and 19 ready for drilling. Spouters 
like those of the preceding years, it was thought, would 
never be seen again ; but it was not long before all pessi- 
mistic predictions were shown to be wrong. The surprise 
came from a fresh quarter — Bibi-Eibat. Development 
work at the two properties, groups XIX. and XX., was 
proceeding slowly. Tagiev had a copious supply from his 
wells, the deepest not exceeding 679 feet. Zubalov had 
three wells near Tagiev's refinery. None of his wells could 
compare in production with those of his neighbour ; as a 
matter of fact, one well had even failed to strike oil at 770 feet. 
While Balakhani and Saboonchi continued to yield a 
crop of prolific spouters, Bibi-Eibat excited little interest. 
It had been thought that the Droozhba well, with its daily 
flow of 200,000 poods, would never be equalled, until a 
Bibi-Eibat well, completed with a 10 in. bore, commenced 
to throw up from 600,000 to 700,000 poods a day, or more 
than all the 25,000 wells of America, and the thousands of 
other wells in Galicia, Roumania, Burmah, and other 
countries together. The well, started in 1884, never 
yielded at its best more than 4,000 poods, which at that 
time was not considered extraordinary. The yield subsiding, 
deepening work was started. The next oil bed was struck 
at 714ft. on September 27th, 1896, when the oil began to 
spout with a record amount of power, drove upwards to a 
height of 224 ft., and gave a production at the rate of 
30,000 poods per hour. 

" From the town," wrote the Bakinskiya Izvestiya, " the 
fountain had the appearance of a colossal pillar of smoke, 
from the crest of which clouds of oil sand detached them- 



THE GREAT SPOUTERS OF 1881— 1890. 105 

selves and floated away a great distance without touching 
the ground. Owing to the prevalence of southerly winds, 
the oil was blown in the direction of Bailov Point, covering 
hill and dale with sand and oil, and drenching the houses 
of Bailov, a mile and a half away. Nothing could be done 
to stop the outflow. The whole district of Bibi-Eibat was 
covered with oil, which filled up the cavities, formed a lake, 
and on the fifth day began pouring into the sea. The out- 
flow during three days was estimated at 5,000 or 6,000 
tons daily. On the sixth day the wind freshened, and the 
oil spray began flying all over the town. The square in front 
of the Town Hall of Baku was drenched with petroleum, 
which even fell on houses in the outskirts to the north. 
The loss of oil was prodigious. On the eighth day the 
maximum was reached, the oil then spouting at the rate of 
700,000 poods per day. To prevent the oil being totally 
lost, attempts were made to divert the stream away from 
the sea into some old wells. 

After the tenth day it began to diminish, and by the 
fifteenth day the engineers had got it so far under control 
that the outflow was only 60,000 poods per day. Altogether 
close on 12,000,000 poods are estimated to have come to 
the surface, and most of this was lost for want of storage 
accommodation. The oil simply poured into the Caspian 
Sea, and was lost for ever to mankind." 

In the spring of 1887 the prolific resources of Bibi-Eibat 
were again proved on No. XX. group by what was known 
as the Zubalov spouter. The drilling of the well had been 
started in 1885, and the drill had penetrated to a depth of 
567 ft., when the owners, discouraged and disheartened, 
suspended operations. The success of Tagiev, whose 
1 1,000 ton spouter, only a short distance away, caused them 



io6 BAKU. 

to re-start boring in November, 1886. The depth reached 
when the fountain burst forth was 672 ft., the 16 in. tube 
reaching 196 ft, the 14 in. to 392 ft., the 12 in. to 623 ft., and, 
finally, the 10 in. to 672 ft. The Tagiev fountain did not 
spout until a depth pf 714 ft. had been reached. On 
Sunday morning, March 20th, huge quantities of oil 
and boulders were hurled out of the well to a height of 
350 ft. The wind being light and blowing from Baku, 
sand and stone fell round about the well and did very 
little damage. Brought in at seven in the morning, at 
eleven there was a perceptible faliing-off in the strength of 
the spouter, the height of the stalk being 200 ft. Gangs of 
men directed the stream in the direction of some Zubalov 
reservoirs. These were quickly filled to overflowing, and, 
the new earth walls breaking, the oil rushed like a river 
into the Caspian. From the 20th to the 24th the oil 
spouted without intermission ; then it suddenly ceased 
for four days, the bore hole becoming choked with stones 
and sand. On the 28th it began playing afresh, and 
gushed with great violence for several days, when the tube 
became completely blocked. Nearly all the oil was lost. 

In 1886 the Caspian and Black Sea Company (Roth- 
schilds) had taken over the Batoum Company's concern. 
Its start as a producer at Saboonchi was most successful. 
On May 2nd well No. 13 commenced to spout. Between 
the 3rd and the 9th it produced 250,000 poods. It stopped 
on the loth and nth, when a cap was fitted. Spouting on 
the 1 2th and 13th, it produced 30,000 poods, then the 
bailer came into use, and each time it was raised spouting 
re-commenced, the well producing 47,000 poods between 
the 19th and 21st. The well, as a bailer, regularly produced 
during the whole of 1888 from 4,000 to 6,000 poods per 
day. 



THE GREAT SPOUTERS OF 1881—1890. 107 

A more powerful spouter was No. 3 well of this com- 
pany, which came in six days after No. 13 stopped flowing. 
Starting off for three hours on the 26th, it suddenly stopped, 
then re-started in the evening, and produced 1 50,000 poods 
on the 27th, 120,000 poods on the 28th, 50,000 poods on the 
29th, 50,000 poods on the 30th, and 30,000 poods on the 
final day of the month. It gave out on June 6th, but when 
bailed it continued to yield from 3,000 to 4,000 poods 
per day. 

In January, 1888, the Caspian and Black Sea Company 
had No. 16 well spouting for two weeks at the rate of 6,000 
poods per day. Nobels had in September, 1887, an 
exceptionally prolific spouter. From the 27th the well 
spouted twenty days, giving a regular production of 40,000 
poods per day. The well started spouting when repairing 
work was in progress. A cap was fixed without trouble. 

In 1887, Balakhani, put somewhat in the background by 
the sensational developments at Saboonchi and Bibi-Eibat, 
came suddenly to the front with a fountain which excited 
wonder even at Baku. The new well, belonging to the 
Mining Company, began spouting on August 13th, at the 
rate of 400,000 poods daily. The well became choked after 
a nine hours flow. It was thought that the trouble was 
passed and no attempt was made to fix a cap. On the 
following day it broke loose. On the 23rd, the stalk was 
still from 200 to 350 ft. high and the flow up to 300,000 
poods. The pressure was terrific, the oil occasionally 
shooting twice as high as Nelson's Column, and reaching 
as far as Woolwich Arsenal is from the City. Holes 
and depressions near the well were filled with oil, which 
flooded the country for miles around, while the sand which 
was thrown out formed a 14 ft. high crater round the wall 
and completely buried a number of houses. Gas was given 



io8 BAKU. 

off in volumes which made it dangerous for anyone to 
approach the spouter or to light fires in any part of the oil 
region. 

" Yet one day," Marvin tells us, "a heedless sightseer from 
Baku attempted to strike a match to light a cigarette ; but 
the fool, very luckily, was seen by some workmen, who 
knocked the match from his fingers, and would have 
lynched him on the spot or flung him into the lake of oil 
but for the opportune arrival of the manager." After this 
the fountain was surrounded by Cossacks to keep off 
intruders. Several fruitless attempts were made to gag 
the well. Whole tree trunks and a 22-ton cast iron plate 
were tried, but to no purpose. Within a few minutes every 
obstruction was hurled off the bore hole, and the spouter 
played day after day for more than six weeks, the volume 
gradually decreasing to about 120,000 poods per day. The 
patience of the Russian Government was at last exhausted, 
and permission was given to the other firms at Baku to 
seize and cap the well. Availing themselves of the power 
given, Nobel, Rothschild, and other firms sent their best 
engineers to the spot, and these, after working for several 
days, managed to fix a cap and stop the flow of the 
spouter. Twelve million poods of oil were wasted. This 
well was not the most productive in the field, some, it will 
be remembered, threw up over 500,000 poods, but none 
continued to do this for so long a period. 



CHAPTER X. 
GROWTH OF THE INDUSTRY IN 1881-1890. 

STEADY PROGRESS — OUSTING THE SMALL FIRMS — THE WHITE TOWN 

TRANSPORT DIFFICULTIES — JEWISH PIONEERS ON RUSSIAN 

MARKETS — COMPLETION OF BAKU-BATOUM RAILWAY ADVENT OF 

THE ROTHSCHILDS — RUSSIAN EXPORTS HANDICAPPED — COLONEL 
STEWART ON BAKU BUSINESS METHODS — NO BRITISH FIRMS AT 
BAKU — PIPE LINE SCHEMES — PERMISSION TO RUN PRIVATE TANK 

CARS — Baku's first syndicate — imposition of excise tax 

ON kerosene STARTING OF THE STATISTICAL BUREAU — THE 

industry AT THE END OF THE PERIOD. 

Great as was the progress made by the petroleum 
industry in the 1873-1880 period it was small in comparison 
with the advance made in every direction between 1881 and 
1890. The output of crude and refined, the shipments to 
the home markets, and the foreign trade grew in this 
period to dimensions unthought of even in 1883. Foreign 
enterprise, though hated by both natives and Russians, was 
beginning to tell. The output from 25,000,000 poods in 
the final year of the preceding period increased to 
40,000,000 poods in 1 88 1, and kept on progressing until it 
reached 226,000,000 in 1890. The exports of petroleum 
products rose from 23,400,000 poods to 176,300,000 
poods. The table on page 1 11 shows the great growth of 
the industry. 

In 1 88 1 Mr. Ragosine, who all along maintained that the 
refining centre ought to have been established in Russia 
proper and not at Baku, submitted to the Minister of 
Finance a memorandum advocating the imposition of a tax 



no 



BAKU. 
Exports to Russia and Abroad. 



Produc- 
tion. 


Illumi- 
nating 
Oils. 


Lubri- 
cating 
Oils. 


Resi- 
duum. 


Crude. 


Total. 



Percentage 
of Exports to 
Production. 



Millions of poods. 



1880 


25 


7-8 


— 


7-0 


0-4 


15-2 


6o-8 


I88I 


40 


II-6 


— 


9-3 


2-5 


23-4 


58-5 


1883 


50 


I2"6 


03 


12'6 


1-6 


27'3 


54'6 


1883 


60 


14-2 


I '2 


I2'2 


1-9 


29-5 


49-2 


1884 


89 


217 


I '4 


28-5 


2-5 


54-1 


60-8 


1885 


115 


27-4 


1-6 


35-6 


2-8 


67-4 


58-6 


1886 


123 


32'4 


o'8 


357 


3-0 


71-9 


58-5 


1887 


155 


44-0 


2-3 


41-5 


3'4 


91-2 


58-8 


1888 


182 


50-0 


2-6 


58-5 


3-8 


114-9 


63-1 


1889 


193 


6i-i 


3-4 


88-6 


4-2 


157'3 


81-9 


1890 


226 


67-8 


4-6 


97-1 


6-8 


176-3 


78-0 



on exported crude. A commission of enquiry presided 
over by Mr. Bunge (shortly afterwards appointed Minister 
of Finance) was held. Seven or eight of the leading 
producers attended with the departmental chiefs and 
Professors Mendeleiev and Lisenko. Mr. Ragosine 
advocated an export tax of one rouble per pood, but 
Professor Mendeleiev thought thirty copecks would do. 
The producers strongly opposed the tax. Mr. Kokorev 
asked for time to consider the subject. He was supported 
in this action by the other Baku producers who hoped in 
this way to get the subject shelved. The first conference 
was abruptly terminated in order to allow the producers to 
submit their opinions in writing. 

Another conference was convened for a day in March, 
1882, but the assassination of Alexander II. (March ist), 
led to its being abandoned, and as Mr. Ragosine did not 
meet with support the matter was allowed to drop. 

Naturally, during the rise of Baku there have been 
frequent periods of stagnation, while more than once it 
has been openly and confidently predicted that the 



GROWTH OF THE INDUSTRY. in 

industry was on the point of collapse. But at the end 
of each succeeding year the industry was discovered 
to have forged ahead and falsified the predictions of 
approaching evil days. Baku has proved no exception to 
the general rule that the growth of large firms means the 
ruin of many small ones. In 1880 there existed near 
Baku 195 refineries, of which only four (two Mirzoiev's, 
one of the Baku Oil Company, and one Sarkissov's) were 
on a large scale; at the end of 1885 their number had 
been reduced to 136, of which 100 only were working. Of 
large refineries capable of producing over 500,000 poods of 
kerosene per annum, there were 12; between 100,000 
and 500,000 poods, 15 ; and under 100,000 poods, 109. 
These latter included many old Persian plants, consisting 
of from one to two stills, and only working a few months 
in the year. The six leading refineries were : — 



Owners. 
Nobe Bros 


Kerosene Capacity 
(Tank cars of 
10 tons each). 

22,200 


Caspian Company (De Boer, Manager) 
Batoum Oil Co. (Palashkovski and Co.) 
Tagiev and Sarkissov 


5,160 
4,680 
3.300 


Baku Oil Company 

Schibaieff and Company 


2,500 
1,700 



Of the 43,000 tank cars shipped, Nobels had to their 
credit 17,100, as compared with ten out of 6,700 in 1885, 
when they started. 

White Town, which had grown up in the meantime east 
of Black Town, and been laid out on more sanitary and 
cleanly lines, contained some of the best Baku refineries, 
such as the Schibaieff, Palashkovski, Oelrich and Bulfroy 
refineries, and an extensive sulphuric acid plant, the 
sulphur being obtained in large quantities from Persia. 

In 1890 there were 143 refineries, only 97 (including 



112 BAKU. 

15 large ones) of which were in exploitation. These 
produced 73,676,000 poods of kerosene. 

In line with the producing and refining branches of the 
industry developed the pipe line and other transport 
facilities, the drilling methods, and the organisation of the 
industry. The six pipe lines connecting the oil fields with 
the refineries in 1884 had increased to 15, of a total 
length of 100 miles, in less than three years. 

In 1886 there were on the Caspian Sea 29 tank 
steamers (11 Nobels). These were capable of conveying 
in one trip 985,000 poods of kerosene in bulk, and from 
28 to 30 trips were made by each steamer between Baku 
and the nine-foot roadstead at the estuary of the Volga 
during the seven months of navigation. 

In 1889 these had increased to — 





Minimum 






No. 


Tonnage. 


Maximum. 


Total. 


Steamers ... 50 


... 215 .. 


1,129 


•• 31.774 


Sailers 397 


— 


— 


.. 96,034 


In construction 11 


... 533 .. 


1,209 


.. 8,613 



In 1890 the number of tank steamers had increased to 
54, of about 1,570,000 cubic feet capacity. 

Shipments from the Caspian had increased by about 
15,000,000 poods in 1880 to 118,600,000 poods in 1890. 

Strange to say, while lakes of oil were burned and many 
wells remained capped at Baku, simply because there was 
no demand for more than a fraction of the possible output, 
the traders on the upper reaches of the Volga found it 
cheaper to get their oil from America than from Baku, or 
from the Ragosine Company's refinery near Yaroslav. 
Stranger still, Tiflis, up to within a few weeks of the 
opening of the Tiflis-Baku section of the Transcaucasian 
railway, drew its supply of illuminating oil from America, 
a distance of more than 8,000 miles, while sufficient 



GROWTH OF THE INDUSTRY. 113 

crude to flood the town was running to waste 341 miles 
from its doors. 

St. Petersburg still used (1883) American oil in pre- 
ference to the Baku product, notwithstanding the higher 
price (2'40 copecks against i"30 copecks per pood). In 
Western and Southern Russia American oil also predo- 
minated during the early part of the eighties. Here, 
however, the cheapness of the Russian product, resulting 
from overstocking in the Volga region, soon secured for it 
many consumers, and in this way the import of American 
oil through Odessa was affected. The pioneers of these 
markets were Odessa and Kiev Jews, who, however, did 
not care about the quality of the oil so long as it was 
cheap. This resulted in some refiners supplying these 
markets with an oil of the worst possible description, a 
mixture of solar oils and benzine, until the Government 
stepped in (1886) and prohibited the sale of illuminating 
oil having a lower flashpoint that 28° C. (82j° Fahr.). 

The construction of the Baku-Tiflis section of the 
Transcaucasian was dragging on, interminably it appeared, 
largely owing to financial difficulties in which the con- 
cessionaires (Palashkovski and Bunge, building the line, 
who were also refiners and producers) found themselves 
at the outset. 

This indirectly led to the appearance of the Rothschilds 
with their millions. The Rothschilds had been engaged 
for some time in the petroleum industry of the Northern 
Caucasus, and had worked up a fairly extensive illuminat- 
ing oil business on the Continent. They registered (1883) 
at Batoum the Caspian and Black Sea Company with a 
capital of ;^6oo,ooo, having for its object the production, 
treatment, transport and sale of Russian petroleum. The 
constructors of the Transcaucasian approached Rothschilds 

B. I 



1 14 BAKU. 

for financial aid, which was given on a mortgage on the oil 
fields and refinery of the Batoum Oil Company. Rothschilds 
in a short period introduced over £2,000,000. As regards 
the other producers and refiners, this happened at a most 
opportune moment ; if Rothschilds had not appeared some 
of them would have had to go to the wall in their competi- 
tion with the engineering and financial genius of Nobel. 
Rothschilds bought kerosene freely, and frequently paid 
the refiners in advance. By doing this they carried those 
producers who depended on them through many a crisis. 

The Transcaucasian was eventually completed in April 
and started in May, 1883. Up till then Baku oil only 
found its way to Europe in quantities hardly worth con- 
sidering, and no wonder, considering that it had to be con- 
veyed more than 2,000 miles by water and rail before it 
could be delivered into the tank vessels in the Baltic. 
The competition of the Transcaucasian reduced the dis- 
tance at a stroke to 560 miles, and brought Baku oil within 
reach of the European consumer, albeit there was a freight 
rate of 20J. per ton for the 560 mile run. The line when 
it started did not improve matters much. As in the case 
of most lines built during that period the shareholders were 
guaranteed by the Government a fixed interest on their 
investment. The result was that they did not trouble 
much abont improvements. Altogether Nobels had then 
over 1,500 tank cars running on the Russian lines, while 
the Transcaucasian only had a few hundred. A limit to 
traffic was also imposed by the blocking of the railway 
over the Suram Pass. 

Colonel Stewart, who attended the third conference 
on behalf of the London Chamber of Commerce and 
Petroleum Association, wrote (1886) : — "There is no English 
firm established either at Baku or Batoum. At Poti there 



GROWTH OF THE INDUSTRY. 115 

is one English firm doing a good business, chiefly in box- 
wood, Indian corn, manganese, and other local products, 
but not particularly engaged in the petroleum trade. 
Most of the refiners and well owners at Baku are in a 
state verging on bankruptcy ; but this does not at all show 
that good business could not be done there. If any trade 
in the world were conducted on the system, or rather, utter 
want of system, that prevails at Baku, bankruptcy would 
speedily follow. Hardly any of the heads of the firms are men 
of business, or could tell whether they were doing a profit- 
able trade or not, if they were at Baku, but they are 
generally absentees, leaving the duties to be performed 
by a manager who is not looked after so long as he remits 
funds to headquarters. When he ceases to do that, he is 
summarily dismissed. I know that one of the largest firms 
at Baku has changed its business manager seven times in 
about two years. Oiifices are only open daily from about 
8.30 a.m. to 12 noon, and then again for about two hours 
in the evening, while much time is wasted in card-playing. 
Scandalous waste, not to say speculation, goes on every- 
where. If, under such circumstances, profits were made, 
it would be rather surprising than otherwise. Some foreign 
merchants, Germans and others, who attend to their work 
themselves and conduct the trade in a business way, are 
making money. I consider that a good opening will occur 
for English merchants as soon as a pipe line is laid down to 
Batoum or Poti, for commencing a profitable business by 
erecting storage tanks at Batoum, and purchasing oil from 
the refiners ; but I do not consider that it would pay an 
English firm to own wells or refine oil at Baku, where 
there are already too many refineries there, and the 
business requires to be removed to the Black Sea coast, if 
it is to flourish." 

I 2 



ii6 BAKU. 

No sooner was the practical advantage of pipe line trans- 
port brought home to Baku oil men than schemes for pipe 
lines to Batoum and the Persian Gulf were put forward. 
Up to the middle of 1886 these proposals were discounten- 
anced by the Government on the ground that, having to 
meet the guaranteed interest on the line, it could not 
possibly sanction schemes likely to compete for its traffic. 
When it was shown that the line would have sufficient to 
do, even if it had not a monopoly of the oil traffic, a com- 
mission was appointed to draft a general scheme for a 
concession. Then new considerations arose, the chief 
one being as to whether the pipe line was to be for crude 
or refined oil. Result, another investigation and the oppo- 
sition of the leading refiners on the ground that a line for 
crude would create a new refining centre at Batoum. Some 
time passed before the work of making the line was taken 
in hand, and half the distance, the Mikhailovo-Batoum 
section, only started working in July, 1900, while the 
remaining section will not be in working order before 
the end of this year. 

There were plenty of buyers, but the railway company 
would not provide sufficient tank cars. This poverty of 
cars and the troubles of the Suram Pass effectively pre- 
vented the free and full development of the trade. The 
Government in 1887 thought it would remedy the evils of 
the system by giving the exporters permission to lay a 
forty-mile pipe line across the Pass, the idea being that the 
cars should carry the oil to one side of the Pass, that it 
should be pumped across the intervening forty miles, and 
taken thence in tank cars to Batoum. 

The company persistently refused to work a sufficient 
number of tank cars, and in 1888 the Government gave 
the refiners permission to run their own. The chief 



GROWTH OF THE INDUSTRY. 117 

refiners immediately availed themselves of the privilege, 
Nobel alone putting on about 465 cars. 

The inevitable result was a hopeless congestion of traffic 
at the Suram Pass, and the Government thereupon gave 
the refiners permission to make a pipe line from the Baku 
side of the Caucasus to Quirilla Station, a distance of 
seventy-eight miles from Batoum. 

In 1 886 Baku had its first syndicate ; this was promoted 
by Nobels, and included the Tagiev, Caspian, Arafelov and 
Batoum oil concerns, the last named being largely in the 
hands of Rothschild. Nobels dominated the syndicate. 
In 1888 the Government considered the industry had been 
sufficiently developed to stand a tax of 40 copecks per pood 
of home consumed kerosene. This tax was in 1892 increased 
to 60 copecks, the figure to-day. 

Up to 1888 the information bearing on development 
work at the fields, production of the different properties 
and refineries, the extension of pipe lines and the export 
business was imperfect — mere estimates, in fact. The 
statistical bureau of the Producers' Association came 
into existence in 1889, and it is only from that year 
that we can follow the steady growth of the industry 
and see how the centre of production gradually moved 
from Balakhani and the western sections of Saboonchi 
eastward towards Ramani, and also how Ramani and Bibi- 
Eibat have been making such rapid progress since the day 
when Nobel led the way in the matter of deep drilling. 

There were three systems of drilling in use. The one 
most generally adopted was the rod system with which fair 
results were obtained. It was most useful when the drillers 
were not highly skilled mechanics. The majority of the 
wells at Baku were drilled on this system, but about the 
middle of the eighties many firms started using the American 



GROWTH OF THE INDUSTRY. 119 



in a spouter. It began to flow very suddenly while it was 
being drilled and blew the tools high into the air. 

The situation at the end of the period is shown in the 
following tables : — 



1889. 


Balakhani. 


Sabooncbi. 


Ramani. 


Bibi-Eibat. 


Total. 


Production, 












poods 
Number of pro- 


68,911,300 


105.563.000 


— 


^7.773.400 


192,247,700 


ducing wells . 


ia6 


135 





17 


278 


Number of wells 












drilling . 


— 











121 


Number of wells 












completed . . 


13 


33 


I 





47 


Feet drilled 









^ _ 


45.500 


Number of pro- 








N^- 




ducing firms . 


— 


— 








58 


Output of kero- 












sene 


— 


— 


— 


— 


61,145,000 


1890. _ 












Production, 












poods 


63>337.700 


143.355.600 


1,546,200 


18,027,100 


226,266,600 


Number of pro- 












ducing walls . 


145 


190 


3 


26 


364 


Number of wells 












drilling . 


— 


— 








331 


Number of wells 












completed 


19 


58 


4 


4 


86* 


Feet driUed 










103,670 


Number of pro- 












ducing firms . 


— 


— 


— 





6it 


Output of kero- 












sene 


~ 


~ 




— 


73,673,000 


Baku Exports. 




By Caspian. 


By Transoaucasian. 


Total. 


1889 


110,200,000 


47,400,000 


157,600,000 


1890 


n 8,600,000 


57,300,000 


175,900,000 



* One at Binagadi. 

t Of the firms at work in the preceding year 7 had ceased to exist, 
while 14 new ones started. 



CHAPTER XI. 
HISTORY OF THE EARLY CONFERENCES. 

THE 1886 CONFERENCE AND THE CASPIAN-BLACK SEA PIPE LINE — 
LASTS TWENTY-SEVEN DAYS — ^TROUBLE BETWEEN LARGE AND 
SMALL FIRMS — QUESTION OF REPRESENTATION — ONE FIRM ONE 
VOTE — A RESOLUTION THAT RESULTED IN THE WITHDRAWAL OF 
LARGE PRODUCERS — ^THE SMALL REFINERS AND THE FEES — THE 
AIMS AND OBJECTS OF THE PRODUCERS' ASSOCIATION, THE 
GREATEST OF THE KIND IN THE WORLD. 

During the period just dealt with the Baku Producers' 
Association was formed for reasons which are made obvious 
by the facts which I give in this chapter. 

The huge quantities of oil belched forth by the giant 
wells of 1883, instead of benefiting the trade, brought about 
a crisis. The Minister of Agriculture and Domains was 
handed petition after petition from the producers who 
appealed for a commission of inquiry and for permission 
to attend the conference. The result was an Ukaz 
(February i6th, 1884) directing that a conference should 
assemble at Baku to consider the situation and enable 
those concerned to express their views and state their 
needs. The conference was invited to submit recom- 
mendations to the Imperial Government. The first meet- 
ing under this order was held in 1884, and resulted in a 
considerable increase of the carrying capacity of the Trans- 
caucasian Railway between Baku and Batoum. Large 
quantities of new rolling stock were placed on the system. 

The second conference assembled in 1885. This was a 
failure ; the practical results of many earnest discussions 



HISTORY OF EARLY CONFERENCES. 121 

were nil ; but complaints concerning the difficulties of 
running the petroleum industry grew in number, and a 
third conference was held in 1886. 

Merchants, financiers, speculators, and indeed all con- 
nected with the industry were loud in their complaints 
about the stagnation caused by the great drop in the prices 
of petroleum products, particularly of illuminating oil. It 
was urged that it was impossible to export the enormous 
quantities of oil from the wells at Baku unless a pipe line 
were laid from tl\f Caspian to the Black Sea, or consider- 
able improvements made in the carrying capacity of the 
Transcaucasian . 

The third conference (March, 1886) was presided over 
by a Government mining engineer, and was officially 
attended by delegates from the Ministry of Public Works, 
the Imperial Department of Mines, the Military Governor 
of Kutais (with control at the naval port of Batoum), and 
the Baku branch of the Imperial Technical Society. 
Eight delegates represented different railways and steam- 
boat companies, and eighty-four represented branches of 
the petroleum industry at Baku. Nine delegates from 
England, France, Germany, and Russia were given per- 
mission to attend, but were not allowed to vote. Vice- 
Consul Peacock, Batoum, represented the British Foreign 
Office. The agenda contained the following : — 

(i) The organisation of future conferences, proposed to 
be held annually (especially with reference to the right of 
voting to be granted to each member) ; also the organisa- 
tion of a permanent executive council to carry out the 
orders and decisions of the conference. 

(2) The marine transport of oil in bulk. 

(3) Measures for developing the Russian petroleum 
export trade. 



122 BAKU. 

(4) The reduction of railway tariffs on certain articles 
required in the burning of astatki (petroleum residuals). 

(5) Harbour improvements at Batoum to facilitate the 
shipment of petroleum products. 

(6) Advances on credit (from the State Banks) to oil men. 

(7) Classification of oil cargoes. 

(8) Measures likely to advance the scientific and technical 
branches of the Caucasian petroleum industry, and measures 
for the proper organisation and protection of the oil fields 
and refineries. 

(g) Regulation of local dues levied on crude to meet the 
requirements of the industry. (One-tenth of a copeck per 
pood was levied at that time to meet these expenses.) 

(10) An excise tax on crude oil and products. 

(11) Trial drilling on new oil-bearing territories. 

This conference lasted twenty-seven days. Amongst 
other proposals the one referring to voting power created 
trouble between the large and small firms. The proposal 
submitted for debate was that only the representatives of 
the well or refinery owners should be permitted to vote, 
and that each producer of 300,CX)0 poods of crude, or of 
100,000 poods of kerosene or lubricating oil, should have 
one vote on any question submitted, and for every 300,000 
poods of crude, or 100,000 poods of refined beyond the 
first, one extra vote should be allowed, and so on. In 
case, however, of one firm producing such a large quantity 
of oil as to obtain more than one-fifth of the votes 
capable of being given at the conference, the firm was not 
to be allowed more than one-fifth of the whole of the votes. 
A heated discussion ensued. Mr. von Welke, a well owner 
and lawyer, was commissioned by the small well owners 
and refiners to resist any measures proposed by the large 
firms if they were hostile to their interests. 



HISTORY OF EARLY CONFERENCES. 123 

Mr. von Welke proposed that no one should be allowed 
more than two votes, the number not to be regulated by 
the amount of production, but of the dues (one-tenth 
copeck per pood) paid to the association — a person paying 
dues on 250 wagons (600 poods each) to be entitled to one 
vote ; a firm paying on 500 wagons to be entitled to two 
votes, but no firm to be allowed more than two votes. After 
much discussion, Mr. Welke's proposal was carried by an 
overwhelming majority. This decision caused the dele- 
gates of sixteen of the largest firms to withdraw for a 
few days. 

The question was put (twenty-fifth day), how the expense 
incurred for the hire of room, lighting, printing, salary of 
secretary, etc., was to be met, the ^^300 which had been 
assigned for this purpose having been exceeded by ;;r250. 
It was proposed that each firm of refiners should contribute 
£2 loj. It was, however, stated that if this proposal was 
not accepted, the large refiners would make up the 
deficiency. In consequence of the decision that each firm 
represented should pay £2 \os. towards the debt incurred, 
the small refiners abstained from attending on the following 
day, and only three paid. 

(This association, almost wrecked at the start through 
a shortage of ;f 250, has now an annual income of upwards 
of ^120,000, and spends over £100,000 in maintaining a 
huge hospital, several ambulances and technical and 
statistical staffs, and publishing records of the world's oil 
trade.) 

During the past twenty years the association has rendered 
yeoman service to the industry. It is more truly repre- 
sentative of the chief branches of the trade — producing, 
refining, and transporting — than any similar organisation 
in the world. The scope of the aims and objects of the 



124 BAKU. 

association will be gathered from the following summary 
of its statutes : — 

(i) With the permission of the Minister of Agriculture 
and Domains, annual conferences are convened not later 
than November each year, and extraordinary conferences 
as and when required — (a) for the purpose of preparing 
statistics relating to estimates of crude oil production, 
capacity of refineries, the transport facilities of the Trans- 
caucasian Railway, and the capacity and working of the 
oil pipe lines ; {i>) for the purpose of dealing with the 
internal and administrative business of the association ; 
(c) for the purpose of discussing, if found necessary by the 
Minister, various questions connected with the petroleum 
industry ; (a?) for the purpose of fixing the amount to be 
levied by the association to meet the expenditure on 
behalf of the petroleum industry ; (e) for the purpose of 
drawing up and modifying the transport regulations by 
arrangement with the representatives of the oil-carrying 
railways and steamship companies, all drafts or amend- 
ments of this description being subject to the approval of 
the Minister of Means of Communications. 

(2) The time and place of a conference to be fixed by 
the Minister of Agriculture and Domains by arrangement 
with the Civil Administration of the Caucasus. 

(3) The conferences are entitled to approach the Govern- 
ment institutions on all questions relating to the needs 
and improvements of the petroleum industry of the 
Caucasus. 

(4) The conferences to be under the control of a chairman 
appointed on each separate occasion by the Minister of 
Agriculture and Domains. 

(5) The chairman to notify the members of the associa- 
tion of the time, place and programme of the conference 



HISTORY OF EARLY CONFERENCES. 125 

not later than three weeks before the opening date by 
publication in the official metropolitan and local papers. 
This need not be done in the case of extraordinary con- 
ferences. The chairman to open and close the conferences, 
conduct and direct the debates in conformity with the 
agenda, and enjoy all rights generally vested in a chairman 
at meetings. 

(6) Participation in the conferences with all the rights of 
actual membership is enjoyed by the specially appointed 
delegates from the respective Ministries, oil men (petroleum 
producers, refiners and pipe line carriers) or their attorneys 
and representatives of the railway and steamship companies 
of the districts abutting on Baku. 

(7) In addition to those mentioned in the preceding 
paragraph right of participation in the conference, but only 
with a consulting vote, is given to delegates from scientific 
and technical societies, trading and industrial enterprises, 
municipal and rural bodies, and generally to all parties 
interested in the development of the Russian petroleum 
industry. 

(12) When certain questions require detailed treat- 
ment the conferences can appoint special commissions 
of inquiry. 

(13) In the event of a disagreement in discussing a 
question the matter is to be finally decided by open ballot, 
actual members only voting. 

(14) At the request of not less than ten members, the 
open ballot may be replaced by a closed ballot. 

(15) On questions relating to the expenditure of the 
funds of the association only those members are entitled to 
speak and vote who enjoy the qualification stipulated in 
paragraph 32. 



126 BAKU. 

Officers of the Association : their Privileges and Duties. 

(i6) At the conferences the following officers and com- 
mittees are elected for the Baku district : — (a) the chairman 
of the council ; {b) members of the council (not more than 
five and three candidates) ; {c) the members of the Technical 
Committee of Baku ; (d) the members of the Auditor's 
Committee ; (e) the members of the Technical Baku Oil 
Field Protection Committee ; (/) the representatives of 
the petroleum producers at the Caucasian Mining Depart- 
ment ; (g) the members of the committee for the allotment 
of railway wagons on the Transcaucasian between the 
producers and the refiners ; and {K) the members of the 
committee for the erection of workmen's dwellings and the 
organisation of amusements for the workmen and employes 
in the Baku district. 

* * * * 

Conferences. 

(i8) In addition to the auditors elected by the members 
of the association, one must be appointed by the Minister 
of Agriculture and Domains. 

* * * * 

(24) The council will ascertain, with the assistance of 
the local Government engineer, the yearly output of the oil 
properties, pipe lines and refineries, and prepare for the 
next conference a list of members, giving against each name 
the production of the preceding year, and issuing the voting 
tickets based on the output to these firms. 

The council will prepare the draft programme for the 
next conference and submit same for approval to the 
Minister of Agriculture and Domains. 

Any member of the association desiring to submit a 




THK Ll.I- T II- RONT KOW) : 
;ER (FORMERLY CONNECTED WITH THE RUSSIAN 
'^, IN THE CENTRE OF THE LEFT-HAND TABLE IS 
AND SLIGHTLY TO THE LEFT) IS MR. ABRAMOVITZ 
RIGHT IN THE CENTRE OF THE FRONT ROW IS 
bxHER COMPANIES, AND CHAIRMAN OF THE BAKU 
O, MR. FEIGEL (rOTHSCHILDS), MR. ARAMIANTZ 



[To Alcc page 126 



HISTORY OF EARLY CONFERENCES. 127 

question for discussion at the conference must first give 
notice with an explanatory note to the council. If such a 
notice is signed by not less than five members, the subject 
must be incorporated in the agenda of the next conference. 
* * » « 

(28) Everyone entitled to take part in a conference is 
eligible for election as an officer for the conference. 

Members on the Technical Committee, the Technical 
Oil Field Protection Committee, and the committee for the 
erection of workmen's dwellings and organising amuse- 
ments for the workmen and employes of the Baku region 
may also be elected from amongst those entitled to take 
part in the conferences, but without voting power. 

(29) All officials are elected till the ensuing annual con- 
ference, with the exception of the chairman and members 
of the council and their candidates who are elected 
tricnnially. 

(30) In the event of the chairman resigning before the 
expiration of his term of office, the members must elect a 
chairman who shall act till the next annual conference. 
A member who resigns may be summarily replaced by the 
candidate who received the largest number of votes at the 
election. 

(31) The election of officers to be conducted by secret 
ballot. Those receiving the greatest number of votes, and 
subject to their representing more than half of the votes 
present, to be elected. 

(32) Votes at elections are only allowed to firms (or to 
their representatives) who are actually engaged in the 
working of oil fields, refineries and pumping of oil through 
pipe lines, and on condition that they pay the poodage 
impost levied by the association for the general needs 
of the petroleum industry, as fixed by the preceding 



128 BAKU. 

conference. No one but the actual lessee of a property is 
entitled to a vote. 

(33) All these firms are classed under two heads. The 
first includes the more important firms owning oil fields, 
refineries and pipe lines with a total output of about two- 
thirds of the production of the region, while the other 
group contains the smaller producers, representing about 
one-third of the entire output. Each group is allowed an 
equal number of votes on the following basis — those classed 
in the first group are allowed one vote for every 1,000,000 
poods of crude produced, 400,000 poods of kerosene and 
lubricating oils extracted, or 4,000,000 poods of oil pumped 
through the pipe lines, while those coming in the second 
class are granted one vote for every 500,000 poods of crude 
produced, 200,000 poods of kerosene and lubricating oils 
extracted, or 2,000,000 poods of crude pumped through 
the pipe lines. 

(34) The votes are allotted separately for production, 
refining and pumping, so that the same firm may vote 
separately as a producer, refiner and pipe-line owner. 

(35) Firms, if the quantities they individually produce, 
refine or pump do not entitle them to a vote, may combine 
and transfer their combined vote to a representative. 

(36) Each voter may also represent an absent one, but 
not more than one. 

The Revenue of the Association. Poodage Impost. 

Pursuant to paragraph 555 of the Mining Code the 
obligatory poodage impost levied by the association to 
defray the expenditure necessitated by the requirements 
of the Baku petroleum industry was in 1902 fixed at one- 
tenth copeck per pood, or roughly \\d. per ton. Of crude 
forwarded from the oil fields of the Baku region since June 



HISTORY OF EARLY CONFERENCES. 129 

last year the impost has been increased to one-fifth copeck 
per pood, or roughly ^d. per ton. 

This impost is divided between the three different 
branches of the industry in the following manner — (a) The 
petroleum producers pay 0*05 copeck per pood of crude 
delivered to the pipe lines ; (d) The owners of pipe lines 
pay o'02 copeck per pood of crude passed through their 
lines; and (c) therefinerspayo'03 copeck per pood of crude 
received at their refineries for treatment. 

In order to render collection easier, the last-mentioned 
impost is made chargeable on the products forwarded from 
the refinery on the basis that each 3J poods of crude 
received yield one pood of kerosene and two poods of 
residuum (astatki), and each four poods of residuum, one 
pood of lubricating oil and two poods of goudron. On 
this basis the products forwarded are charged : — 

(i) 0'0525 copeck per pood of kerosene. 

(2) 0-02625 copeck per pood of residuum or goudron. 

(3) 0*0525 copeck per pood of lubricating oil. 

(4) 0'03 copeck per pood of crude or lake oil sent out of 
Black or White Town. 

Also, to facilitate matters, the impost is entirely charged 
up to the quantities forwarded in the case of the Bibi- 
Eibat region, the impost fixed for this region being on the 
following basis : — 

(i) o'l copeck per pood on crude and lake oil forwarded 
outside the Baku region. 

(2) 0"0i copeck per pood on crude and lake oil forwarded 
to Black and White Towns. 

(3) o'lySi copeck per pood on kerosene and lubricating 
oils forwarded. 

(4) o"o8745 copeck per pood on residuum and goudron 
forwarded from the Cash Department of the Council. 

B K 



I30 BAKU. 

The impost is collected by the issue of permit certificates 
of nine different series (A — I). 

As mentioned the above charges have been doubled in 
proportion for the three years from June ist (O.S.) of last 
year. 

Enquiries made during a visit to the palatial ofifices of 
this wealthy and powerful association brought out the 
above interesting information together with the fact that 
in 1903 the income was ;^I29,050, or a little more than the 
expenditure, which amounted to ;^ 112,410. 



CHAPTER XII. 

THE INDUSTRY FROM 1 89 1. 

GENERAL REVIEW — THE CHOLERA YEAR — EXTENSION OF PROVEN 
AREA — ROYALTY FACTS AND FIGURES — PRODUCTION STATISTICS 
— THE LIFE OF BAKU WELLS — REFINERIES — EXPORTS — PRICES. 

The producing industry maintained an upward move- 
ment till the summer of 1892, when it was checked by the 
outbreak of cholera. Most of the workmen fled from the 
oil fields, and there was a total suspension of industrial 
and business life, not only in Baku, but all over the 
Caucasus and the Volga trading region. The result 
was a decrease of drilling activity and a reduced yield 
by bailing. It was only in 1894 that the 1891 figure was 
regained. The production of the bailed wells from 1889 
was as follows : — 



1889 . 


.. 150,000,000 


1897 


.. 318,070,000 


1890 . 


.. 177,000,000 


1898 


.. 372,796,000 


I89I . 


.. 235,000,000 


1899 


•• 444.759.000 


1892 . 


.. 310,762,000 


1900 


.. 532,931,000 


1893 . 


.. 215,565,000 


I90I 


•• 573.157.000 


1894 • 


.. 236,144,000 


1903 


.. 543,094,000 


1895 . 


.. 365,286,000 


1903 


.. 543,089,000 


1896 . 


.. 299,306,000 


1904 


•• 578,747.000 



But for the exceptionally prolific spouters of 1892 and 
1 893, there would have been a considerable decline in the 
total production. Since that year the output has steadily 
grown, especially since 1896, when the Government held 
the first public auction for petroliferous reservations within 
the oil field areas. The terms were on the basis of fixed 

K 2 



132 BAKU. 

cash royalties per pood. At the auctions of 1898, 1899, 
and 1900 the terms were the same. In 1900 speculation 
was wild, traders offering over twelve copecks per pood 
royalty, an abnormally high figure, the significance of 
which will be recognised when it is stated that about 
43 acres went at an average royalty of 2"67 copecks per 
pood, at the second auctions 189 acres at 2'83 copecks per 
pood, at the third about 200 acres at about 2-91 copecks 
per pood, and at the fourth auction (1900) over 300 acres 
at an average royalty of 5 '82 copecks per pood. The 
result was that in 1903 another auction had to be held for 
re-letting, but not on a poodage royalty, but on a percent- 
age of production, the royalty offered not to be under 
40 per cent. The result of these gradual extensions of 
the oil-bearing area has served the purpose of maintaining 
the total output and the average production of the wells. 
One Anglo-Russian Company, the Russian Petroleum and 
Liquid Fuel Company, pays no royalty and only a nominal 
rent. 

During the period under review, Balakhani, notwithstand- 
ing its prolonged development and the comparatively 
shallow depth of its producing wells, steadily increased 
its production down to 1900, but since that time it has 
been gradually declining. Spouters, for which the field was 
at one time famous, became rarer every year, and the 
quantity of oil thrown up since 1 891 does not total 2,000,000 
poods. 

While Balakhani was declining as a spouter-producing 
locality, spouters, as described in one of the preceding 
chapters, were great features at Saboonchi, especially in 
its western and northern sections. The spouter area 
gradually shifted westward, in the direction of Ramani, 
the strongest point being just where the road from 



THE INDUSTRY FROM 1891. 133 

Saboonchi village to Ramani village is intersected by 
the Ramani boundary, near the Avakov property. 

Ramani, although it only came into exploitation at the 
conclusion of the 1881-1890 period, quickly occupied an 
important position in this group of oil fields and from the 
beginning has maintained its reputation as spouter ground. 
The best year for spouters was 1895, when 68,400,000 poods 
of spouter oil were produced, or more than the combined 
spouter production of Bibi-Eibat and Saboonchi. During 
the last year Ramani production was considerably 
increased by the output of the Moscow-Caucasian Com- 
pany from the Ramani Lake reclamation. This company 
alone had over 20,000,000 poods. Finally, as regards Bibi- 
Eibat it has produced surprises galore, especially in the 
matter of huge spouters. In 1896 not one spouter in the 
Peninsula was under 1,050 ft. Nine spouters had an 
aggregate production of 67,479,000 poods, or about a 
third of the production of all the 228 producing wells 
exceeding 1,050 ft. in depth. As a matter of fact, two 
Bibi-Eibat wells accounted for more than two-thirds of the 
spouter production. One, a Zoubalov well, produced 
24,495,000 poods from 1,358 ft, the other, a Tagiev well, 
22,092,000 poods from 1,330 ft. From 1891 down to 1903 
Bibi-Eibat had 49 prolific spouters, which produced 
386,500,000 poods, as compared with 47 Ramani spouters, 
which threw out 302,000,000, and 42 Saboonchi spouters, 
which gave 189,800,000 poods, making 138 wells which 
gave 878,300,000 in the whole of the Peninsula. 

In 1901 there were three spouters which gave more than 
3,000,000 poods each. One of the most famous spouters 
was brought in by the Russian Petroleum and Liquid 
Fuel Company, The value of the oil was about half the 
purchase price of the property. 



134 



BAKU. 





Balakhani. 


Saboomchi. 


Year. 


Poods. 


Per- 

centage 

of 

total. 


No. of 

pro- 
ducing 
wells. 


Production 

of 
Spouters. 


Poods. 


Per- 

centage 

of 

total. 


No. of 
pro- 
ducing 
wells. 


Production 

of 
Spouters. 


1891 


74,175,100 


3i'3 


178 


100,000 


163.537.500 


55 "2 


227 


30,100,000 


1892 


69,861,731 


24-4 


178 


— 


142,347,846 


49"7 


221 


38,300,000 


1893 


71,280,330 


21-9 


185 


— 


132,607,774 


41' 


214 


28,200,000 


1S94 


69.643.731 


23 '4 


205 


— 


132,421,057 


44'5 


248 


10,100,000 


1895 


76,871,733 


20*4 


243 


— 


142,018,169 


37-6 


268 


18,600,000 


J896 


90,368,761 


23-4 


304 


148,000 


147.804.573 


,8-2 


311 


14,100,000 


1897 


100,336,495 


23-8 




— 


162,610,054 


38-5 


384 


15,400,000 


1898 


108,836,439 


22-4 


485 


1,400,000 


179,828,697 


37' 


457 


20,400.000 


1899 


"4.854,151 


21'9 


610 


— 


230,757,289 


43"9 


543 


35.700,000 


igoo 


124,680,087 


20-8 


736 


— 


251.634.159 


41-9 


665 


11,100.000 


1901 


117,783,832 


I7'S 


775 


— 


295.254.315 


43-9 


780 


37.900,000 
9,800,000 


1902 


101,504,267 


'5'i 


720 


— 


267.159.044 


41-9 


751 


1903 


38,650,141 


14-8 


693 


— 


230.454.593 


38-6 


747 


3,000,000 


1904 


82,014,410 


13-3 


732 


— 


218,127,012 


35-5 


792 


5,370,000 




Ramani. 


BlBI-ElBAT. 


Year. 


Poods. 


Per- 
centage 
of 
total. 


No. of 
pro- 
ducing 
wells. 


Production 

of 
Spouters. 


Poods. 


Per- 
centage 

of 
total. 


No. of 
pro- 
ducing 
wells. 


Production 

of 
Spouters. 


1891 


12,968,100 


4-8 


26 


400,000 


23,887,700 


87 


25 


8,400,000 


1892 


41.041,383 


I4'3 


29 


20,100,000 


33,262,880 


11-6 


20 


17,300,000 


1893 


73.146.364 


22-5 


33 


44,000,000 


47.494.729 


11-4 


26 


37,000,000 


1894 


61.701,047 


207 


52 


27,200,000 


33.785.249 


125 


27 


24,500,000 


1895 


111,408,645 


29-5 


62 


68,400,000 


47,128,073 


l8-2 


31 


25,800,000 


iSge 


78,088,324 


20-2 


84 


20,600,000 


69.855.123 


14-9 


35 


52,100,000 


1897 


96,266,133 


22-8 


106 


30.400,000 


62,514.479 


19-9 


38 


43,000,000 


1898 


100,523,699 


207 


113 


31.400.000 


96.526,783 


15-4 


'>\ 


59,900,000 


1899 


98,581,782 


i8-8 


138 


23,700,000 


80,840,807 


18-2 


58 


21,100,000 


igoo 


114,835,986 


19-1 


185 


30.100,000 


109,207.063 


20- 1 


112 


26,600,000 


1901 


124,156,817 


l8-5 


213 


22,000,000 


I33.6I3.I8I 


20'1 


143 


38,100,000 


1902 


139.943.833 


21*9 


2ig 


38,500,000 


127.433.285 


20-0 


135 


46,100,000 


1903 


119.952,259 


20-1 


221 


13,100,000 


157.289.515 


26'4 


174 


37,400,000 


1904 


133-442.406 


217 


253 


8,500,000 


181,090,766 


295 


222 


22.355.000 



Year. 



Total for Apscheron Peninsula (including Binagadi). 



No. of 

pro ducing 

wells. 



Production of 

Spouters. 

Poods. 



Per- 
centage 
of total. 



Drilling 

Record. 

ft. 



1891 
1892 
1893 
1894 
1895 
1896 
1897 
1898 
1899 
J 900 
1901 
1902 
1903 
1904 



274.568.400 
286.513,840 
324,529,197 
297.551,084 
377,426,620 
386,116,781 
421,727,161 
485.943.34S 
525,217.415 
600,763,812 
671,276,26^ 
636,831,120 
596,604,805 
614,971,989 



456 

448 

458 

532 

604 

735 

904 

1,107 

1.357 

J. 710 

1.924 

1,840 

1.850 

2,012 



39,000,000 
75,700,000 

109,200,000 
61.800.000 

112,800,000 
86,900,000 
88,8oo,oop 

113,100,000 
80,500,000 
67,800,000 
98,000,000 
94,400,000 
53,500,000 
36,225,000 



14' 

26- 

33 '6 

20'4 

29-7 

22'5 

20*9 

23 '2 

I5'2 

"•3 

14'6 
14-8 

9 

5'9 



139,860 
81,690 
76,860 
90,013 
146,055 
196,889 
278,887 
406,847 
600,761 
581,987 
540.481 
282,730 
345,485 
435,736 



The production returns for the first six months of this year are 
given in the Appendix. 




THIS TUNNEL WAS THE SCENE OF ONE OF THE MOST FRIGHTFUL ATROCITIES IN 
SEPTEMBER. IN IT A NUMBER OF ARMENIANS SOUGHT REFUGE, BUT TARTARS 
BLOCKED UP THE ENTRANCE WITH WOOD AND RUBBISH SOAKED IN PETROLEUM AND 
SUFFOCATED AND BURNED THEM TO DEATH. THE WATER OF THE RAMANI LAKE 
FLOWS BY GRAVITY THROUGH THIS TUNNEL INTO THE CASPIAN SEA. 



[ To /ace page 134. 



THE INDUSTRY FROM 1891. 



135 



Total for the 

Apscheron Peninsula 
(including Binagadi 


■IPAV PSfiEa Jsa aSejSAV 


00 0(n(?lNNMmC7lO.Js(Vim 
loio'^'^'ij-cn'ntntnmmw « 


JO nononpoij aS-ejaAy 




Smonpojj }o q;d3a aSBjaAV 


R'RRss.il's.aiBis? 


•SIISM 3npnpoj<i jo -on 


■* •* ^ »nvo t«* oi w en Fn CTioo CO o 


BiBI-ElBAT. 


'IPM P3n«a Kd 33EJ3AV 


« « oo->MomM(N.o ■^co CO 


•SIPM IIS 
JO noijonpojj 33bj3av 


ss ^ ^ S a,^ ° °^ ^'^ s S s!5* 

OlVO CO W irj 0J»0 O en CTl C^ Ot o^oo 


■)a3£ 01 snaM 
Smonpojj JO qjdaa aSEjaAy 


oooovocnoM_wcn-*«_w_tn >*\d_ 


•siisMSoionpojjjo-oN | S'S'g & SS'S.'S-S 2 ?SS:8 


z 

5 


■IPM patreg -lai sSEjaAy 


oo cnoo o\oo ts«o MT* ■* ■* « »o 


•siPM TIE 
JO noponpojj bSejsav 


<ng Q o cnM^%o g -^lotno o 
t*s o o o w « oo C7i« m c* M *s -<f 
*^ « m lo 0>0 « lo m t^co O f^ ■+ 


Smonpojd JO qjdaQ aScjdAy 


g«§,|||||f§||ff 


•S[i3M Smonpojd jo -on 


'8 8'Rafi=?'8 5'^S2'S'SS 


s 




a 


■naMPSireg Md sSciaAy 


1 woo M *vM^O.«2mH t^coo 


•sn3A\ IF 
JO noHonpojj agejaAy 




10 


•JS3J ni srpAV 
3aionpoj(2 Jo q?daa SBBjaAy 


Sf g lit st § 1 S.tf f 


■sipAi. anpnpojj JO -ON & 3 ?^g ^|;ft Sl"^ g g g. 


< 

n 


•naM paireg ^ad aSBjaAy 


cn>o (n wo m Tfoo w en w w ts 

WCO M ■«J--4-r^iHts.O t-^t^N o 

1 ■»*■ o\ m "o N tnco trt -^ a\ 0\ o\ -^ 


■snaAV Ills 
JO noi^onpojj a^BjdAy 


2-£SS'5SRS?£'gRS.SS- 

l^-ij-mt^tnw m-Tfw ■*0^0^0^■* 
vi" w" ts\ d\*o tC rn ■^oo" oi i-T d" rC tn 
i-i oirncnM ounwoovo ur^w m 
^cn^fOtnwwwi-iwt-iwMM 


•jaajl in snaM 
3aionpoj(j jo qjdaQ aSeiaAy 


s'sl-l'RRERSRlHi 


•snaM.3ii!onpoJd}o-oN j 


'Ss-ssSaHsRKsl'R 




•■reaA 1 


llllllllllllll 



136 BAKU. 

The importance of the old wells is gradually declining. 
There are two reasons for this : first, the producing wells 
passing over from one year to another are steadily declining 
in number, and an increasing percentage of these, compared 
with the number in the year of completion, have to undergo 
repairs, be deepened, or allowed to stand idle, and to be 
abandoned in the end. In the second place, it is only 
natural that the layers in exploitation should become 
exhausted, and that the average production of the wells 
should decline to an extent which renders it impossible 
to work them with profit. (In the Appendix there are 
references to the questions of the upkeep of wells and the 
water troubles.) 

In the following tables, compiled from the reports of 
the Baku Petroleum Producers' Association, the subject is 
dealt with separately in regard to the Balakhani-Saboonchi- 
Ramani oil fields and Bibi-Eibat. There is comparatively 
little information on the subject of Bibi-Eibat anterior to 
1896. Besides, there was no great amount of drilling 
activity (the number of completions never reached 10), 
and it was only after the auctions in February, 1899, that 
there was a marked increase in the number of completions. 
As a matter of fact, in 1896 there were only 35 producing 
wells on the two groups and six plots in exploitation. In 
1900 the number of producing wells increased to 112, the 
number of developed oil properties to 22, and the output 
from 69,855,123 poods (including I7,;87,I23 poods from 
28 spouters) to 109,207,063 poods, of which 82,596,000 
poods came from lOO spouters. 



THE INDUSTRY FROM 1891. 



137 



The Life of Old Wells. 



ij 


Is 
z ° 


Number of these in production during 


> 


l8gi 


1892 


1893 


1894 


1895 


1896 


1897 


1898 


1899 


1900 


1901 


I9OZ 


1903 


1888 
1889 
1890 
I89I 
1893 

1893 
1894 

1895 
1896 
1897 

1898 

1899 

1900 
1901 
1903 


227* 

47 
81 
142 
80 
64 
87 
81 

135 
8ia 
259 
353 
402 
334 
Z19 


181 

34 

76 

142 


135 
27 
67 

119 
80 


108 
22 
56 

109 

74 
64 


129 
24 
30 

108 
70 
56 


133 
25 
46 
92 
64 

53 

80 


124 
27 
48 
98 
62 
50 
79 
76 


124 
23 
45 
98 
55 
44 
74 
68 

120 


125 

21 
40 
90 

52 

38 
67 
60 
113 

190 


71 
25 
36 
84 

52 

37 

63 

54 

102 

165 

249 


64 

22 

35 

73 

52 

32 

56 

53 

97 

154 

231 

315 




56 

21 

33 
70 

44 

31 

48 

46 

83 

134 

208 

281 

377 


42 
17 
25 
49 
30 
25 
37 
38 
65 
113 

175 
227 
323 
304 


38 
13 
23 
47 
25 
25 
34 
34 
55 
96 

153 
216 
288 
267 
186 



* The 1888 number refers to wells in production accord- 
ing to the Caucasian Department of Mines. The total 
yield of the wells dating back to that year was as follows : — 



1888 


.. 166,000,000 poods. 


1896 .. 


. 30,000,000 poods 


1889 


.. 145,000,000 „ 


1897 •• 


. 30,000,000 „ 


1890 


.. 127,000,000 „ 


1898 .. 


. 13,000,000 ,, 


1891 


76,000,000 „ 


1899 .. 


. 11,000,000 „ 


1892 


45,000,000 „ 


1900 .. 


8,000,000 „ 


1893 


38,000,000 „ 


1901 .. 


5,000,000 „ 


1894 


36,000,000 „ 


1902 .. 


4,000,000 „ 


1895 


36,000,000 „ 


1903 •■ 


3,000,000 „ 



138 



BAKU. 







Subsequent average per well in the following years :— 
In thousand poods. 




1891 


1892 


1893 


1894 


1895 


1896 


1B97 


1898 


1899 


igoo 


1901 


1902 


1903 


l888» 

1889 

1890 

1891 

1892 

1893 

1894 

1895 

1896 

1897 

i8g8 

1899 

1900 

1901 

igo2 

1903 


731 
I '337 

854 
1-045 
I-I29 

1-695 
1-038 
2-156 
1-070 
593 

t?s 

349 

346 


420 

847 

878 

1-045 


333 
546 
607 
803 
1-129 


352 
652 
702 
614 
740 
1-695 


283 
382 

480 

556 

1-027 

1-038 


270 
208 
448 
473 
541 
546 
933 
2-156 


242 
262 
322 
379 
407 

P 
675 

1-070 


242 
346 
294 
313 
296 
419 
622 
544 
738 
593 


104 
201 
222 
254 
299 
336 
423 
598 
411 
495 
407 


155 
III 
226 
206 
254 
240 
321 
534 
406 
304 
508 
308 


122 
100 
176 
163 
206 

1 82 

325 

455 
304 
215 
391 
368 
349 


94 
86 
173 
130 

'^ 
163 

289 

280 

166 

288 
400 
431 


log 
80 

214 

211 
180 
264 
325 

tit 


86 
81 
125 
157 

146 
198 
165 
182 
132 
217 
200 
249 
369 
413 
346 



♦ Refers to total output of all producing wells in 1888, 



Decrease in per cent, of average monthly yield compared with the first year. 



*o-a 


s 


t 


i 


s 

>> 

.5 


i 




i 




.a 


^ 
fl 


%, 

A 


i 

-s 


i 


i 


1889 
1890 
1891 
1892 

i8g3 
i8g4 

llU 
1897 
1898 
1899 
1900 
igoi 
igo2 


17-1 
a-g 
35 ;e 

46-8 
17-8 
70-0 
36-0 

24'6 
39 '7 
40-8 
29'11 
44-1 
48-1 


54'1 
409 
55-a 
56-4 
73 '1 
41-0 
78-8 
67-4 

63-8 
61-e 

59'2 
50-, 
62-4 


in 

43'7 

65-6 
61-7 
81-6 

53'6 
79'6 
70-8 
73-6 
72-1 


76-6 

64'8 
70-1 
72-4 
83-7 
68-0 
83-8 
79-1 
81-6 
85-2 
78-1 


85-0 
71-e 

'^\ 
88-0 
77-9 
86-1 

tiA 
84-4 


91 
77 
79 
83 

92 


9 

s 



s 

2 
8 

a 

9 


88-8 
80-8 

85-1 
85-1 

t^ 
95-6 
93'2 


86-0 
88-5 

88-8 
95-1 
91-2 
96-8 


92-8 

88-8 

92-0 

93-6 
95-7 
92-5 


95-6 
gi-6 
g3-9 
g4-6 
g66 


96-4 
9' '6 
9f6 

96-s 


97-8 

94-8 

95'1 


97-8 
95- 


98-8 



THE INDUSTRY FROM 1891. 



139 



As can be seen from the preceding table, the production 
of a well declines most rapidly in the first few years of its 
life. Generally speaking, at the end of the fourth year 
the yield of a well declines to about a third of the original 
production. In succeeding years the decline becomes less 
marked, partly as the result of repairing work, and also 
because of the exhaustion of the natural gas, the chief 
cause of the productivity at the start. The ratio of decline 
is shown in the following table : — 





Per cent, of 

Original 
Production. 




Per cent, of 

Original 
Production. 


Second Year 


- 351 


Ninth Year 


. 89-2 


Third Year 


... 58-8 


Tenth Year 


. 93-6 


Fourth Year 


... 67-1 


Eleventh Year 


• 94-4 


Fifth Year... 


... 767 


Twelfth Year 


• 94-8 


Sixth Year 


... 83-3 


Thirteenth Year . 


• 95 '6 


Seventh Year 


... 86-4 


Fourteenth Year . 


. 96-8 


Eighth Year 


... 88-4 


Fifteenth Year . 


• 98-3 



The comparatively small number of wells completed at 
Bibi-Eibat scarcely enables one to form an exact idea 
regarding the extent of the gradual decrease in the average 
production of the old wells. However, the Balakhani- 
Saboonchi-Ramani statistics, compared with those referring 
to Bibi-Eibat, bring out the fact that the Bibi-Eibat wells 
exhibit greater stability in their average yield. After a 
rapid decline during the second year of their existence, 
due evidently to the stoppage of spouting, there is not 
such a pronounced decline in the monthly average as 
occurs in the case of the other regions. 



I40 



BAKU. 
BIBI-EIBAT WELLS. 



Year of 


Number 
of wells 
com- 
pleted. 


Number of these producers in 


pletion. 


i8g6 


1897 


iSgS 


1899 


igoo 


igoi 


igo2 


1903 


1896 
1897 
1898 
1899 
1900 
1901 
1903 
1903 


6 

II 

15 

8 

46 

45 
24 
36 


6 


4 
II 


3 
9 

15 


4 

9 

15 

8 


4 
10 

15 

8 

46 


4 
9 

15 

8 
45 
45 


3 

8 

12 

8 

36 

31 

24 


a 

7 

13 

8 

37 
35 
24 
36 



Average yield 

per well in first 

year. 




Average production per 


ivell in thousand poods. 




Year of 

com- 
pletion. 


1,000 

poods. 




i8g6 


1897 


i8g8 


i8gg 


1900 


igoi 


igo3 


1903 


1896 
1897 
1898 
1899 
1900 
1901 
1902 
1903 


4-318 

3-058 

3-756 

1-555 

537 

786 

1-283 

741 


4-318 


1-278 
3-058 


849 

849 

3-756 




635 
1-052 
2-100 

1-555 


1-836 
1-003 
2-122 

2-535 
537 


2-i8o 

632 

1-8 5 

1-169 

714 
786 


143 

291 

2-144 

1-608 

874 

532 

1-283 


325 
2-123 
1-833 

779 
851 
691 
962 
741 





Decrease in the monthly average production of the wells in 






comparison with the first year. 


Year of 






completion. 


















2nd Year. 


3rd Year. 


4th Year. 


5th Year. 


6th Year. 


7th Year. 


8th Year. 




per cent. 


percent. 


per cent. 


per cent. 


per cent. 


per cent. 


per cent. 


1896 ... 


87-7 


93-9 


93-9 


82-8 


79-0 


99-0 


98-4 


1897 ... 


87-8 


84-8 


84-0 


90-9 


96-3 


76-9 




1898 ... 


66-5 


66-1 


70-1 


72-6 


74-7 






1899 ... 


1-4 


54-7 


37-5 


69-7 








1900 ... 


56-0 


56-6 


56-6 










19OI . . 


71-2 


67-8 












1902 ... 


63-8 















THE INDUSTRY FROM 1891. 



141 



The average decline in production in comparison with 
the first year of exploitation works out at 62 per cent, for 
the second year, 70 per cent, for the third year, 68-4 per 
cent, for the fourth year, 78'9 per cent, for the fifth year, 
83*3 per cent, for the sixth year, 87-9 per cent, for the 
seventh year, and 98'4 per cent, for the eighth year. 

The percentage of illuminating oil extracted to the 
quantity of crude produced has been steadily decreasing 
since 1890, when it stood at 32'6 per cent. 



Class 


I. 


II. 


III. 


IV. 








0— H 


over 1,000,000 


1,000,000 — 500,000 


500,000—100,000 


undei 


100,000 




£"^ 




























tM 




•m 




U-l 




^ 








o_^ 




0^ 




^ 




°*J 








a 


1 


al 


si 


If 


<3 


aa 


Si 










>• 


t 


|g 


.0 





.a 

a 


a ° 


■i 


is 




Ul 






1 


a)—. 


3 


(U^ 







3 


qj.-j 


"(3 








g2 


Z 


"1 


z 


o'rt 


Z 


a - 


is 


b 


V 






&° 




Si" 




£S 




<£° 


H 


^ 


^ 


1891 


15 


_ 


13 


_ 


38 





24 


_ 


127 


90 


37 


1S92 


17 


— 


10 


— 


30 


— 


31 


— 


106 


88 


18 


1893 


26 


— 


5 


— 


20 


— 


16 


— 


103 


67 


36 


1894 


15 


8i-6o 


9 


8-70 


24 


8-60 


15 


i-io 


102 


63 


39 


1895 


21 


84-08 


II 


8-23 


25 


7-49 


4 


0-20 


102 


61 


41 


1896 


27 


82-28 


12 


9-97 


19 


7-42 


8 


0-33 


102 


66 


36 


1897 


21 


82-97 


14 


10-56 


20 


6-22 


9 


0-25 


lOI 


64 


37 


1898 


22 


89-59 


Jl 


8-35 


8 


1-81 


9 


0-25 


88 


50 


38 


1899 


27 


90-19 


II 


7-56 


8 


1-93 


7 


0-32 


86 


53 


33 


1900 


32 


87-28 


14 


8-10 


20 


4-48 


5 


0-I4 


84 


71 


13 


igoi 


36 


88-60 


17 


8-86 


12 . 


2-37 


4 


0-17 


P 


14 


83 


1902 


33 


91-78 


10 


5'25 


15 


2-8o 


4 


0-17 


62 


17 


79 


1903 


38 


95-17 


9 


2-99 


9 


1-69 


5 


0-I5 


58 


21 


79 



Crude oil and its products are sent away from Baku by 
sea, rail and cart. Up to 1900 the country within a certain 
radius was exempt from the payment of the excise duty, 
and this was supplied by cart. In that year the Govern- 
ment restricted the exempted area to the Black and White 
Towns, and all oil, even if forwarded by cart, had to pay 
the full duty. Therefore, we may safely assume that all 
quantities registered as exported by cart were consumed 
either in Baku or the vicinity. 

The exports which now leave Baku by sea go chiefly to 



142 BAKU. 

Astrakhan for distribution in the home markets ; also to 
Petrovsk, Krasnovodsk, Persia, and other ports on the 
Caspian. The largest quantities forwarded to Petrovsk are 
sent across to Novorossisk by the Vladicaucasian for tran- 
shipment to foreign countries, a small part only finding its 
way to Russia and Black Sea ports. As regards the railway 
transport, it was, down to the end of 1899, exclusively in the 
hands of the Transcaucasian, and it was only in 1900 that the 
Baku-Petrovsk branch of the Vladicaucasian railway was 
opened for traffic. This second line plays an unimportant 
part in the general exports, and, although there has been a 
slight increase, this route is not likely to develop a great busi- 
ness owing to the high tariffs. The petroleum freights carried 
by this line amounted to 1,228,166 poods in 1900 ; 3,140,602 
poods in 1901 ; 4,130,593 poods in 1902; 4,852,885 poods 
in 1903 ; 3,993,000 poods in 1904, and 857,488 poods in the 
first six months of this year. The large increase in the 
quantities forwarded by the Transcaucasian since 1901 is 
due to the opening of the pipe line. The pipe has con- 
siderably increased the carrying capacity of the line. It 
can now handle 100,000,000 poods per annum, but even then 
the line is unable to cope with the demand for transport 
facilities to the Black Sea, and considerable quantities of 
oil, chiefly illuminating, are forwarded by sea to Petrovsk, 
whence it is sent on by rail to Novorossisk. From 1 895 the 
quantities, chiefly of illuminating oil, forwarded for foreign 
export by the joint sea and rail route amounted to — 



Year. 


Poods. 


Year. 


Poods. 


1894 ... 


•• 5.206,357 


1901 ... 


... 18,366,198 


1895 - 


.. 10,159,680 


1903 ... 


... 11,151,358 


1896* ... 


.. 18,381,300 


1903 ... 


... 38,534,870 


1897 - 


.. 4.778,271 


1904 ... 


... 25.756,238 


1898 ... 


.. 8,939,459 






1899 ... 


.. 34,058,308 


(First six months.) 


1900 ... 


.. 33,344,038 


1905 ... 


... 13,306,615 



* Breakdown on the Transcaucasian. 





RTS OF THE REFfXERV OF THE SCHIBMEFF PETROLEUM C 
MR. J. CATER SCOTT IS CHAIRMAN, MOST THOKQLGHLV U 
ERITISH-OWNEU REFINERY AT WHITE TOWN. THE TOP \1 



PANY (LONDON). OF WHICH 
rO-DATE AND THE LARGEST 
V SHOWS THE CONTINLOLS. 



LUBRICATING OIL PLANT, WHICH CONSISTS OF 12 STILLS, EACH OF 20 TONS CAPACITY 
AND TAKING A CHARGE OF 10^ TONS. THIS DEPARTMENT OF THE REFINERY DISTILS 
FROM 355 TO 420 TONS OF MAZOOT PER DAY, AND PRODUCES lOO TONS OF SOLAR OIL, 
16 TONS OF SPINDLE OIL, 9O TO 105 TONS OF ENGINE OIL AND ABOUT lO TONS OF 
CYLINDER OIL. THE SECOND PHOTO SHOWS THE REFINING DEPARTMENT OF THE 
LUBRICATING OIL P1,ANT, WHICH IS CAPABLE OK PRODLCING UP TO 160 TONS OF 
ENGINE OIL PER DAY. 



■ pas:c 142 



THE INDUSTRY FROM 1891. 
Exports to Russia and Abroad. 



143 



£t3 

■oUO 



is 



So— • 



Millions of poods. 



1891 


275 


74-0 


57 


i03'3 


1 1-4 


0-5 


194-9 


70-9 


1892 


286 


78-6 


.V6 


1 16-6 


11-5 


0-3 


212-6 


74-3 


1893 


335 


85-9 


5-8 


i43"5 


12 -O 


0-7 


247 9 


76-3 


1894 


297 


71-2 


6-4 


193-6 


16-4 


0-7 


288-3 


97-1 


1895 


377 


8ro 


b-7 


180-4 


15-1 


i-i 


284-3 


75-4 


1896 


386 


86-5 


8-9 


185-0 


25-5 


i-o 


306-9 


79-5 


1897 


421 


90-4 


9-1 


221'7 


23-7 


1-2 


346-1 


82-2 


1898 


486 


947 


10-5 


242-4 


43-9 


I '4 


392-9 


80-8 


1899 


525 


103-2 


"•5 


244-9 


24-5 


1-5 


.385-6 


73-4 


1900 


601 


123-9 


13 -b 


264-4 


39-0 


2-2 


443-1 


73-7 


I90I 


672 


128-7 


13-8 


309-3 


35-1 


1-2 


488-1 


72-6 


1902 


636 


120-2 


14-8 


342'5 


34-1 


2-2 


513-8 


80-8 


1903 


596-6 


146-5 


16-6 


303-9 


26-4 


0-9 


494-3 


82-8 


1904 


614-6 


153-6 


15-5 


302-6 


i8-7 


1-4 


491-8 


80-0 



Total 
Export. 



By Sea. 



By Rail. 



Percentage 



by Sea. 



by Rail. 



In million poods. 



1889 


157-6 


1 10-2 


47-4 


70-0 


30-0 


1890 


176-9 


118-6 


57-3 


67-6 


32-4 


1891 


194-4 


132-6 


61-8 


68-3 


317 


1892 


212-9 


I45-I 


67-8 


68-2 


31-8 


1893 


248-1 


1747 


73-4 


70-4 


29-6 


1894 


288-4 


222-6 


65-8 


77-2 


22-4 


1895 


284-3 


216-1 


68-2 


76-0 


24-0 


1896 


306-8 


244-8 


62-0 


797 


20-3 


1897 


346-1 


266-8 


79-3 


77-1 


22-8 


1898 


393-0 


309-3 


83-5 


78-8 


21-2 


1899 


385-3 


301-7 


83-6 


78-3 


21-7 


1900 


443-1 


352-9 


88-8 


79-6 


20-4 


1901 


488-2 


383-8 


101-9 


78-6 


20-85 


1902 


513-4 


409-4 


101-2 


79-7 


19-7 


1903 


494-0 


386-3 


105-0 


78-2 


21-2 


1904 


491-8 


379-8 


108-9 


77-2 


22-1 


1st six months. 












1905 


224-8 


190-9 


32-5 


84-4 


14-4 



144 



BAKU. 



Baku crude prices refer to delivery at the oil fields. 
Piping to the Black Town increases the price by J-copeck, 
while sundries and leakage put it up another J-copeck, 
so that Black Town prices are, roughly, J-copeck more 
than oil field prices. 

Crude Oil Prices at Wells. 



1891 1892 1893 1894 1S95 1896 1B97 1898 1899 1900 igoi 1902 igo3 1904 1905 













c 


op« 


icks 


per pood. 












January 
February .. 


4-0 


1-4 


2-3 


2 "I 


4'5 


7'i 


5''' 


S'* 


12-8 


166 


ir-42 


4-6 


7-78 


l6-l5 


14'°53 


4'0 


1-3 


2-2 


2-0 


47 


7-4 


S-g 


87 


I2'9 


167 


io'35 


47 


6-86 


x-i-bb 


13'444 


March 


3-5 


I'2 


1-8 


^'2 


4'3 


7-5 


7'5 


S'' 


12-8 


17-0 


10-40 


,r3'i 


771 


11-98 


14-302 


April 


3-5 


I'O 


1*2 


2-8 


5'0 


77 


7'5 


8'8 


12-8 


17-9 


7-37 


g-42 


871 


I4'54 


15'033 


May 


3'0 


0-/ 


0-6 


2-6 


6-9 


8'i 


7-5 


8-.1 


12- 1 


I7'8 


7-88 


7''i4 


8-50 


IS'II 


17-026 


Tune 

July 


27 


07 


o-b 


2-3 


7-2 


S-i 


7-2 


9-0 


I2'6 


177 


8-40 


7-b4 


7-2.') 


14-21 


20-584 


2-5 


10 


Ob 


3 '2 


7-1 


8-2 


7-5 


lOT 


129 


17-0 


7-80 


7-03 


750 


12-72 


20-733 


August 


2'2 


0"o 


I'O 


3-ii 


8-0 


8-1 


7-5 


10-2 


I3'Z5 


l6-6 


7-6<) 


7'44 


8-00 


13-67 




September .. 


2'0 


1*2 


J '5 


37 


g-o 


77 


7-6 


ir'l 


1375 


14-9 


673 


7-14 


8-i4 


IV17 


— 


October 


I -6 


I'l 


1-6 


3-9 


8-0 


8*2 


7-8 


il'l 


15-1 


I2-S 


7-36 


7-98 


9-41 


15 '23 


— 


November .. 


I'.'i 


l'3 


I-S 


4-0 


b-'i 


8-2 


7-b 


11*0 


17-0 


^••i 


674 


7-87 


I2'2I 


I3'9l 


— 


December .. 


i'3 


I '5 


I -9 


4'5 


7-0 


8-5 


8-5 


I2'I 


16-5 


"•5 


5-45 


6-94 


15-99 


1374 


— 


Yearly 
































Average.. 


27 


i"l 


1-4 


3'I 


b-5 


7-8 


77 


9-8 


137 


157 


8-II 


b72 


9-04 


l4-b7 


— 



Residuum Prices. 



iSgi 1892 1S93 1894 1895 i8g6 1897 1898 1899 1900 1901 1902 1903 1904 1905 













Copecks 


per 


pood. 












January 
February 


4'.'> 


*■■! 


2-6 


3'l 


.S'3 


7-8 


8-0 


9-2 


12-6 


15-2 


I3'.'i8 


5'5 


7-03 


14-21 


14-875 


4"o 


^M 


2-6 


2-9 


.ri 


7-4 


8-0 


9'3 


12-4 


l.'J-4 


13'4b 


.5-3 


'''^5 


14-92 


14-625 


March 


3-.'i 


2-0 


2-0 


3'2 


.VS 


7-4 


8-2 


9-2 


12-5 


lb-4 


I3'05 


b-2 


7-98 


15 62 


15-839 


April 


4-0 


1-3 


17 


■''S 


6-0 


8-0 


8-0 


9-6 


l2-b 


I7'5 


9"93 


8-58 


8-53 


15-25 


17-229 


May 


4-0 


1-J 


l"3 


3-8 


6-9 


8-0 


8-0 


9-1 


12-5 


18-0 


925 


9-37 


8-7S 


15-5 


17-5 


June 

July 


4-0 


1-0 


1-2 


37 


6-3 


8-2 


8-0 


lo-i 


12-9 


18-8 


9-81 


9'28 


8-0 


15-12 


— 


V° 


1-0 


1*2 


4-0 


,-8 


SM 


8-2 


ll'3 


13-9 


18-4 


8-50 


S-81 


8-75 


13-92 


22-695 


August 


3'o 


I'O 


I-S 


4-5 


V8 


7-2 


8-0 


11-4 


14-1 


17-9 


7-92 


8-72 


8-49 


1505 


— 


September ... 


27 


i-o 


2'4 


4-2 


6-5 


7-2 


8-1 


12-2 


I3'9 


17-4 


7-82 


7-86 


8-62 


16-42 


— 


October 


2-1 


1*0 


2-6 


4'I 


b-i 


7-3 


t'^ 


I2-b 


13-b 


I4-.5 


8-19 


7-87 


gl2 


16-78 


— 


November ... 


2-0 


1-2 


2-8 


4'5 


6-5 


?:^ 


87 


12-7 


14-2 


13'3 


7-44 


7-60 


10-21 


13-72 


— 


December 


2-0 


2-0 


3-2 


5-0 


7-0 


8-5 


9-0 


12-0 


14-5 


13-5 


b-34 


7-21 


12-75 


1407 




Yearly 










Average ... 


3'3 


i'5 


2'1 


3'9 


6-1 


77 


8-2 


107 


I3"3 


lfa-4 


9-60 


7-b9 


8-79 


15-04 





There are two prices for illuminating oil at Baku — one 
to home consumers, for oil in tank vessels, and another to 



THE INDUSTRY FROM 1891. 145 

foreign consumers for oil in tank cars. Home prices are 
more or less stable. In the absence of strong competition, 
and because of a steady growth in the demand, we find a 
reason why prices for oil in tank vessels are not subject to 
the same fluctuations as those for export oil. On the 
other hand, export oil prices rule the Baku market, and 
frequently, especially in the case of a rising market, home 
prices move with them. 



B. 



W ,-, 



l-l 


o 


M 


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u 








<u 


m 


a 


la 


!S 


M 


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lA 


(U 


o 


o 


p$ 


O 


M 





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dmOH 


S'??8'S88!R| 1 1 1 1 


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RifRSoSi 1 1 1 I- 


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■SOJIJ 

anion 


1 yp w .'"".'" p>r 1 " 


b 


•OOIJd 

jjodxa 






1 


■ooud 
amoH 




a 


•aoiid 
jiodxa 


s.g'S-oS.oSiei&g.'gM 


£. 


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-aoilj 
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1 


■aoijj 
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f> 


1 


-aaiid 
amoH 




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■aoijj 
jjodxa 


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■a 


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aoiOH 


fNio rnoo jno ixtsKw pep 
"woo Ofb Vco'm b\tsib«b *■* 

CO«tn««««MMHMM 


-" 


■aoud 
jjodxa 


00 o\o«3»n«nHio«iiots.o 


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LE THE BOTTOM RIGHT-HAND HALF 
EIBAT FORESHORE AT THE EXPENSE 



{To /ace p, X46 



PART II. 
THE RISING IN THE CAUCASUS. 



CHAPTER XIII. 

THE FIRST (FEBRUARY) MASSACRES — AN ARMENIAN 
AT BAY. 

CONFLICTING VERSIONS OF THE ORIGIN — WHO BEGAN THE WARFARE 
IN THE CAUCASUS ? — THE STRANGE EXPERIENCE OF A TtmeS 

CORRESPONDENT — ARMENIAN AND TARTAR VERSIONS THE 

ARMENIAN ADAMOFF'S FIGHT ON THE BALCONY — A THREE DAYS* 
SIEGE — SHOT IN THE HEAD — DEATH OF YOUNG ADAMOFF — THE 

HOUSE STORMED BY TARTARS AND THE INMATES MURDERED 

END OF THE LALAEFFS — TARTAR DEAD — STREET INCIDENTS 

COSSACKS DEMAND MONEY FOR SUCCOURING ARMENIANS. 

I FIND it necessary that I should briefly refer to the 
numerous conflicting versions of the origin of what are 
known as the February massacres. I leave over for a few 
chapters an account of the still more serious racial, 
religious and political risings in the Caucasus in 
September, and devote this one to a description of some 
of the incidents in the fighting in February, and particu- 
larly to one which promises to live in Caucasian history — 
the death of the Armenian Adamofif. 

First of all, the origin. Here I am met with an insur- 
mountable difficulty in the well- rooted conviction I have 
that no human being can even classify or analyse the 
multitude of versions of the start of these massacres, while 
I unhesitatingly declare that no one can put forward a 
theory that will be universally accepted as true. Baku 
is the hot-bed of wild theories, misrepresentations and lies. 

I do not advance a theory of my own, and am content 
to preface my story of those terrible days with brief 



ISO BAKU. 

statements of the cases of Armenians and Tartars as they 
have been prepared by their friends and, in the case of the 
Armenians, by one of their leaders. 

This contention of mine that a satisfactory investigation 
of the origin of these racial disorders is impossible will 
probably strike some as being weak. That it is true has 
just been discovered by the Times, which has provided me 
with a striking illustration of the great difficulties with 
which historical truth has to struggle before it reaches the 
light in a city like Baku. The paper has had an extra- 
ordinary experience, and is compelled to make the 
editorial admission — 

"That the heated atmosphere of feud in the Caucasus 
is scarcely helpful to one who is in search of accurate 
information. But," it continues, "the full extent of the 
obstacles in the way, the systematic perversion of facts 
in some quarters and the misinterpretation of them in 
others, will only be appreciated after a perusal of our 
correspondent's letters." 

The Times correspondent tried to find an answer to 
this question — " Who began the warfare in the Caucasus, 
the Tartars or the Armenians ? " and after four weeks of 
investigation he dispatched two letters. Below I give 
the introductory paragraphs of each : — 

THE OUTBREAK IN THE CAUCASUS. 

I. n. 

The Racial Conflict. The Racial Conflict. 

(From a correspondent.) (From a correspondent.) 

Tiflis, Sept. 27. Tiflis, Sept. 28. 

I have during the last four In my letter of yesterday's date 

weeks had many opportunities of I mentioned the main causes of 

discussing the recent disturbances complaint urged by the Tartars 

which still continue to disquiet against the Armenians, especially 



THE FIRST (FEBRUARY) MASSACRES. 151 



many parts of the province of 
Elisavetpol and which reached 
their climax at Baku ; and, though 
I cannot, of course, pretend to be 
in a position to pronounce a final 
opinion on a question of such 
complexity, I have obtained 
enough information to justify an 
attempt to deal with the general 
aspect of the situation, especially 
as the accounts of it which have 
hitherto reached England appear 
to be of a fragmentary and im- 
perfect character. ... I found, 
somewhat to my surprise, that at 
Shusha, as well as in other towns, 
the Tartars were unanimous in 
ascribing the collisions which 
had taken place to the activity 
of the Armenian committees, and 
I was assured also by many wit- 
nesses who might claim to be 
considered impartial, Russians 
and Georgians, that the charge 
was true. It is noticeable also 
that at Baku the general opinion 
of non - Armenians, whether 
Russians or foreigners, inclines 
to hold the Armenians responsible 
for the outbreak and for the con- 
tinuance of the hostilities. 

In this manner has the Times failed to throw light on 
the origin of the extraordinary racial upheaval at Baku. 

AN ARMENIAN VERSION. 

(Given to the Author by an Armenian Leader and Organiser at 
Baku a few days after the February massacres came to an end.) 

This bloodshed is the result of the attitude of the authorities towards 
the Armenians in recent years. Until the early eighties no race in 
the Caucasus were more loyal to the Russian throne than the 
Armenians. It is a mistake to think, as many Englishmen do, that 



in Baku, and I pointed out that 
they invariably attribute the 
recent deplorable outbreaks to the 
sinister influence and activity of 
the Armenian committees. After 
weighing the evidence as carefully 
as possible, I am driven to the 
conclusion that this charge is 
quite unjustifiable, and that the 
Armenians have throughout 
acted on the defensive. The evi- 
dence in favour of this conclusion, 
both direct and indirect, is, in my 
opinion, overwhelming ; and it is, 
at the same time, not difficult to 
understand why the Tartars have 
so steadily persisted in attacking 
the committees, and also why the 
foreign residents at Baku have 
been, by the force of circum- 
stances, almost inevitably pre- 
cluded from taking a purely 
objective view of late events. 



152 BAKU. 

the Armenian has only the trading instincts of the Jew and is afraid 
of war ; rather should the world know that the Armenian " is apt to 
return an insult with a backhander." From the first appearance of 
the Russians in the Caucasus the Armenians have been the only race 
on which the Czar could depend for assistance. There was a time 
when the commerce of the Caucasus was in the hands of members of 
our race ; to-day the men who lead by their enterprise, wealth and 
integrity in the huge business of oil are Armenians, and those who 
love to recall the deeds of heroes in battle will not overlook those 
performed by such famous Armenian Generals as Melikoff, Lazareff, 
and Tergoukasoff, who fought for Russia against the Turks and 
Persians. The Armenians were largely instrumental in putting an 
end to the Shamyl revolt in Daghestan. How have my countrymen 
been repaid for all this loyalty? They are hated and despised by 
Turks and Russians alike. The change came when Alexander III., 
determined to effect the Russification of the Caucasus, found our 
race, men of fine physique and the sons of an ancient kingdom, a 
stumbling-block in his path. Since then it has been the great desire 
of Russia to break down the Armenian nationalist spirit. The St. 
Petersburg authorities abolished the autonomy of the Armenian schools. 
Until the early eighties these schools were under the control of 
Armenian clergymen and supported by the voluntary contributions of 
the Armenian Community in the Caucasus. In 1884 the Government 
demanded that the Russian language should be employed in the 
schools, and in the end our schools passed under the control of the 
Russian Ministry of Public Instruction. That was one of the first 
blows delivered by Russia at the national spirit of the Armenians. The 
next one was dealt when Russia opposed reforiris in the Armenian 
provinces of Turkey. In 1894, after the Sassoon massacres, Great 
Britain, France, Italy and even Austria were inclined to compel 
Turkey to grant reforms, but Germany and Russia opposed, and our 
people are obliged to live under a system of cruelty and oppression. 
We Armenians still blame Russia for the awful atrocities which took 
place in Turkish Armenia in 1895. The feeling against us culminated 
in 1903, when the Government took the Armenian church properties, 
one of the most shameful acts of sequestration in the ecclesiastical 
history of this or any other civilised country.* That was the last 

* Since I took this statement of the Armenian case at Baku the 
Government has announced its intention of returning the property it 
took from the Armenians. Arrangements are being made to do this, 
and when effect has been given to the Imperial edict Armenians will 
have one woe the less. 



THE FIRST (FEBRUARY) MASSACRES. 153 

blow delivered at Armenian nationalist spirit and it was the one which 
turned the Armenians of the Caucasus against the Government and 
converted them into an army of revolutionists — men organised for 
revolution, if not actually in open revolt. After the sequestration of 
church properties frequent attempts were made on the lives of the 
officials of the Caucasus, and it would not be difficult to count ten 
officials who have been killed within the short space of ten months — 
one per month, by the way. Among these was the Vice-Governor of 
Elisavetpol. An attempt was made to take the life of the Vice- 
Governor-General of the Caucasus, Prince Galitzen,* who is held by 
the Armenians to have been responsible for the formulation of the 
sequestration decrees which robbed the Armenians of their church 
properties. The Prince, remembering the attempt on his life and 
anxious for revenge, pressed on Prince Michael Nakasheidze,+ the 
Governor of Baku, the necessity for the adoption of strong measures. 

A TARTAR VERSION. 

(Below is a Tartar version which must be read in connection with 
the revelation of the action of the military authorities in arming the 
Tartars and leading them to believe that the Armenians intended to 
blow up the arsenal, sack the city, and murder the Mussulmans.) 

Two months before the February massacres the Mussulmans 
believed that the Armenians were organising a rising which had for 
its object the capture of Baku and the annihilation of the Mahome- 
dans. It is a fact, and one which has never been officially denied, 
that it was given out by the authorities that the Armenians had 
attempted to bribe the officers in charge of the arsenal in order to get con- 
trol of the guns and ammunition stored there for the defence of the city. 
This started a strong feeling of unrest. Believing that the movement 
had a political character, so far as the Armenians were concerned, the 
authorities took sides with the Tartars, telling them that the Armenians 
were preparing to attack. Undoubtedly, the Mahomedans became 
scared and told their fears to the Governor, who, it was not denied, 
supplied them with arms and ammunition, while the few troops in the 
city made no attempt to stop them, once they had started to massacre 

* The stimulation of hatred between Tartars and Armenians was 
introduced into the Caucasus by Prince Galitzen, now a high official 
at Moscow, and one who has surprised even his friends by the most 
pronounced character of his new (Liberal) opinions and actions. 

t Just before the September massacres Prince Nakasheidze was 
killed by a bomb when driving near his official residence at Baku. 



1 54 BAKU. 

the Armenians. One of the Tartar papers is even now putting 
forward the theory that the conflicts between the Tartars and 
Armenians all over the Caucasus are traceable to the machinations of 
the Armenian Revolutionary Committee, which, they say, is respon- 
sible for bomb throwing and assassination. The Tartar opinion is that 
before the Armenians engage in open war with the Government they 
are anxious to gauge the striking power of their own forces. This, they 
imagine, they can best do by starting with the Tartar element under 
the impression that they will have the support of Christian Europe in 
any struggle they may have with the followers of Islam. In the 
meantime the Armenians think they will be able to see what number 
of troops the Government is capable of throwing into the Caucasus 
and learn something about their disposition ; in other words the 
Tartars think the Armenians are organising and arming for a war on 

a large scale. 

* * * * 

The Tartars abhor the Armenians on religious and economic 
grounds because they are getting the trade of Baku and the large 
Caucasian towns into their own hands. These outbursts of fury are, 
they declare, their only weapon against being utterly destroyed by 
their competitors. A large percentage of the Tartars in the hills and 
some at the oil fields are genuine barbarians with all the qualities and 
shortcomings of that type of humanity, and absolutely callous in the 
matter of shedding blood, but it is fair to add that they are making 
progress and that educated and business-like Tartars are becoming 
much more common than they were. In fact, there are Tartars who 
in business ability and integrity come up to Western ideas of civilisa- 
tion, while some of the Tartar workmen, chiefly of the Kazan type, 
are popular with foreigners because of their faithfulness under a 
pledge and loyalty to those who show them kindness. 

* * * * 

An anti-Government version of the start is that the affairs were the 
outcome of three causes — injustice to the natives ; indifference to 
labour grievances and complaints ; provocation of race and religious 
hatreds. Those who believe this to be true and take an anti-Armenian 
view declare that the Tartars have been oppressed in every way, but 
chiefly by arbitrary dispossession of their lands and dwellings. 
Finding no means of redress, the mountaineers have for years resorted 
to brigandage as a means of livelihood, and have been encouraged in 
this belief by the failure of the Russian administration to punish crime. 
The Balakhani oil region has been systematically sectioned out 
amongst the original Mahomedan owners of the land for purposes 



THE FIRST (FEBRUARY) MASSACRES. 155 

of blackmail, and the companies have found it impossible to put an 
end to this evil. 

Mr. Emmanuel Nobel has declared that the original and principal 
cause of the last outbreak was the discontent at the slow progress of 
the oil field reform programme — a point which has been discussed 
with a display of fiery temper by those who allege that some who 
support this theory are the very ones who have failed to keep the 
promises made to the workmen. 

* * * * 

I am conscious of the necessity for quoting all versions with reserve 
owing to the bewildering multiplicity of mysterious race movements, 
political animosities and private blood feuds which are seething 
beneath the industrial system of Baku and other parts of the Caucasus. 
Indeed, hopeless of ever fathoming the real mystery of the start, I am 
content to finish the fruitless and thankless task by giving the 
following extract from a letter I have just received from Baku : — 

" What the end of these massacres will be it is impossible for any- 
one to foresee. Even those who know the factions best cannot tell 
just why or how the massacres started, and, as I say, I do not think 
anyone can tell how this great problem of the tribes will finally be solved. 
In my opinion, I may say the general opinion, a lasting peace can 
only be secured by the removal of either Tartars or Armenians. But 
how is this to be done ? " 

The only comment one feels inclined to make on this is that the 
Government and the best men engaged in Caucasian industries are 
engaged in the great task of attempting to solve the problem of 
bringing these tribes together in connection with the industrial system 
at Baku. 

* * ♦ * 

The story of the death of a rich and popular Tartar 
named Babaeff (head of an ancient Caucasian tribe and 
the owner of waste lands converted into oil fields) 
must be told before English readers will be able to under- 
stand how the shooting really started. This man was 
walking at midday through Molohansky Square when 
he came face to face with a bitter Armenian enemy with 
whom he had a domestic dispute. He shot the man 
dead. Many Armenians were in the square ; these, rushing 



iS6 BAKU. 

up, assumed a threatening attitude, while Babaeff gave 
himself into the custody of a gendarme, saying, " I have 
killed that man." A Tartar-driven phaeton — and the 
Baku phaetons are owned and driven by Tartars — was 
hailed, and Babaeff and the gendarme stepped into it, but 
before they could leave the spot Babaeff was wounded in 
the chest by a revolver shot. Springing out, he stumbled 
along in the direction of the Grand Hotel. Many 
Armenians fired at him, and he fell, riddled with bullets. 
The story of the murder was carried by the police to a 
Tartar quarter.* Rushing on to the scene a number of 
Tartars took possession of the body, and, forming a 
procession, moved off with it, not mournfully, but with 
the wildest shouts of vengeance and cries of "The 
Armenians have risen." When the body of Babaeff was 
being borne through the Shemekha some of the Tartars 
blew out the brains of a young Armenian student. In a 
moment terror-stricken Armenians began to stream out of 
their houses, and before the body of Babaeff had passed out 
of sight, some thirty of them had been shot in the streets. 

In this way began a three days' massacre^one which, 
while it is likely to be remembered in the annals of 
Caucasian race warfare, cannot be compared with the 
frightful slaughter which took place in September. 
Respecting it the Mayor of Baku said — " They themselves 
do not know why they are killing each other." 

First of all the Tartars said they were attacked by 
Armenians, but, when the massacres were over, and the 
best and most influential of their class met the represen- 
tatives of the Armenians, they declared that they were 
incited to use their revolvers and kinjals by the authorities, 

• The Armenians declare that the police arranged the procession to 
incite the Tartars to rise. 







THE HOME OF THE ADAMOFFS (FROM A PHOTO TAKEN TWO DAYS AFTER THE MURDER 
OF THE inmates). IT WAS FROM THE SMALL BALCONY ON THE LEFT THAT 
ADAMOFF FOUGHT THE TARTARS FOR THREE DAYS. A FEW MONTHS BEFORE 
ADAMOFF WAS MURDERED, HIS BROTHER, ALSO A WEALTHY ARMENIAN AND ONE 
OF THE FOREMOST OIL MEN OF THE CITY, WAS SHOT DEAD AND MUTILATED 
IN THE PUBLIC GARDENS. THE WIPING OUT OF THE ADAMOFFS IS ONE OF THE 
MOST THRILLING CHAPTERS IN THE HISTORY OF THE MASSACRES. 



[To /ace pa^c 156. 



THE FIRST (FEBRUARY) MASSACRES. 157 

who supplied many of them with rifles. When the revela- 
tions of official duplicity came out I wrote : — 

"Baku has passed from winter snows into the warm 
sunshine of summer. The change has been phenomen- 
ally sudden. But more strange still is the manner in 
which it has passed out of a period of human sacrifice — 
away from the slaughter of 2,000 Tartars and Armenians 
— into a state of most unnatural peace. Those fighting 
factions — the terrible Tartars, and the more calculating 
but less cruel Armenians — have paused in their bloody 
work and are looking with astonishment at the duplicity 
of the authorities. ... If not to-day, then to-morrow, 
but if by any chance not to-morrow, then most certainly 
before the end of the year, there will be another battle of 
the tribes." 

My prophecy was fulfilled in September. I only went 
wrong in my calculation of the magnitude of the battle. 
* * * * 

On the small balcony (shown in the photograph on the pre- 
ceding page) one of the most thrilling and tragic incidents 
of the February massacres took place. It was the scene of 
Adamoff's gallant fight against terrible odds ; his foes were 
a horde of Tartars, who were determined to have his life 
and the life of every member of his household. He fought 
to a dramatic finish with such sublime tenacity and heroism 
that the spot must for all time have a fascination for 
Armenians and any friends of Armenia who visit Baku. 

Adamoff was the crack rifle shot in Baku, one of the 
wealthiest Armenians engaged in the oil business, and 
his residence in Arnianskia Street was one of the palaces 
of the city so far as the magnificence of the Oriental decora- 
tions were concerned. He stood a three days' siege, and 



158 BAKU. 

shot no less than forty Tartars, who on the last day formed 
a heap of dead at the corner of the street. 

The aflfair started by his shooting a Tartar ; after that his 
only hope lay in the successful defence of his house and 
people until the Cossacks appeared. His forty dependants 
made preparations for a resolute defence. They kept the 
Tartars at bay until the third day. On the morning of 
that day he took up his position on the balcony, and 
immediately after the first shot was fired his weapon, a 
powerful repeating Winchester, started to do deadly work 
amongst the Tartars. His son kept him supplied with 
loaded weapons. It is a remarkable fact that many of his 
victims were struck between the eyes ; directly a Tartar 
showed himself the ever- watchful Armenian took deadly aim. 

While one man after another was being shot down 
by the brave Armenian several Tartars stormed an oil 
shop, while others secured large quantities of oil from 
the street lamps. Returning to the house with quantities 
of oil and straw, they smashed in the front door, filled the 
hall with straw saturated in kerosene, and started a 
conflagration. It was at this point that Adamoff was 
shot in the head. He retired, only to return at the end 
of five minutes with his head swathed in linen and with an 
aim that was not less deadly than at the start of the terrible 
siege. Several Tartars who did not expect him to reappear 
were shot dead before they could get out of the street. 

Slowly the flames crept up the front of the house, but 
his faithful weapons were never silent. His seventeen year 
old son took up a position alongside his father ; but he was 
instantly shot by the Tartars, and fell over the balcony into 
the street. Receiving a shot in the shoulder, the deadly 
marksman dropped his rifle on to the railing of the balcony, 
but, nerved with the courage of despair and determined to 



THE FIRST (FEBRUARY) MASSACRES. 159 

sell his life still more dearly, he continued shooting. His 
movements becoming slow, the Tartars became more 
aggressive, and he finally received a fatal wound, which 
laid him low on the balcony. This was the signal for the 
Tartars to storm with savage fury the lower parts of the 
house which were not in flames. In the cellars they found 
nine men and eleven women. The men were dragged into 
the street and slaughtered, while the women were taken 
away. 

The last scene in this terrible tragedy was when an 
old woman, one of Adamoff's favourite dependants, fell 
on her knees before the ruiifians and implored them to save 
the life of her son, who was still in the house. While she 
was doing this the son, who heard the scofiRng remarks of 
the Tartars, and evidently feeling ashamed that his mother 
should beg for his life, bravely strode into their midst, and, 
Caesar-like, covered his head with his small robe, awaiting 
his death. The mother, recognising her son, fell with her 
head against the wall of the burning house, while the mob, 
shrieking with delight at the prospect of a new victim, 
immediately dismembered the boy. This was done while 
the mother was being burned to death. 

The police record of the dead bodies taken from the 
building shows that there were forty victims ; in other 
words, every member of the household was either shot 
or burned to death. Adamoff wreaked a terrible vengeance ; 
he took the life of a Tartar for the life of every member of 
his household — a brilliant, if bloody, performance, and one 
which was greatly extolled by the British Colony and the 
Russians in the city. 

The brave Armenian, Adamoff, gave his name to an oil 
company ; by his death he left a name that should live 
in Caucasian history and one that should be honoured 



i6o BAKU. 

by every friend of that ancient and oppressed nation — 
Armenia. 

Another foul atrocity was the murder of the Lalaeff 
family and their dependants. The murdered head had the 
reputation of being a merciless landlord, and was execrated 
by the Tartars. Many stories were told of his rapacity. 

When the Tartars started to attack his house he 
telephoned to the Governor for assistance. This was 
promised, but not given. Like the brave Adamoff he 
determined to sell his life dearly and fired repeatedly at 
all Tartars who showed themselves. There were three 
loyal men-servants in his employment, and these assisted 
him to stand a three days' siege by a display of marksman- 
ship which kept the Tartars at bay. During the siege, 
which lasted until the night of the third day, one fire after 
another was started in the city. Seeing that his ammuni- 
tion was giving out, and fearing that the Tartars would fire 
his house, he telephoned to a wealthy lady named Sakousoff 
imploring her to use her influence on his behalf with the 
Governor. She telephoned to an Armenian member of a 
well known Baku and London petroleum firm, who appealed 
to the Governor to send help to the besieged household. It 
was not until the following day that the Governor rode up 
to the house, only to find it in flames and the dead bodies 
of Lalaeff", his wife and other victims lying in the street. 

His end was dramatic. When his ammunition gave out, 
the house was fired. He sought refuge with his family in 
a secret cellar. When the Tartars rushed in they slew two 
of the servants who had assisted him to defend his home. 
The third one was not killed, and of him they demanded 
to know the whereabouts of the Armenian and his family. 
After being tortured the man gave away the fatal secret 
almost with his last breath. 



THE FIRST (FEBRUARY) MASSACRES. i6i 

LalaefiF, his wife, his old uncle, his daughter, and his 
nephew were dragged out of the house. The uncle and 
nephew were murdered in the cellar, but Lalaeff and his 
wife and daughter were led out into the street. The 
Tartars ordered the women to leave Lalaeff. His wife, 
famous in the city for her remarkable beauty, threw her 
arms round her husband's neck, appealed to the mob to let 
him go, and offered the ringleaders 10,000 roubles for his 
life. Man and wife died together, riddled with bullets. 
Their daughter, seeing her parents murdered, dashed into 
the crowd, only to be seized in the arms of a ruffian and 
carried away. 

Before describing some of the atrocities let me say that 
only a Tartar is allowed to touch a dead Tartar, while a 
dying Tartar, even in the moment of death, struggles to 
draw himself up into a crouching position. The Tartars 
seldom fail to drag dead Mussulmans off the streets, and 
this accounts for the fact that during the fighting in the Cau- 
casus very few dead Tartars lay long near the scene of battle. 

Directly the Governor, accompanied by the head Mullah 
Sheikh-ul-Islam and the Armenian Bishop, paraded the 
streets, proclaiming peace, all the dead were brought out 
and set up in rows, silent witnesses of the " peace " festivi- 
ties in which both Tartar and Armenian joined arm in arm 
and danced. This is a fact. 

* # * * 

Let me describe some individual cases of murder. Near 
the Oil Exchange four Tartars drove up the Gorchakoffskaia 
Street and fired into two groups of Armenians, four of whom 
they killed. The murderers had not driven 200 yards when 
three of them with their driver were shot by Armenians. A 
young Englishman on his way to business witnessed a 
most deliberate murder by a young Armenian. This 

B. M 



i62 BAKU. 

youngster, pushing the Englishman aside, shot a Tartar 
in the back. In a moment the young assassin was shot by 
another Tartar. Mere boys took part in the fearful 
slaughter. There was the case of an Armenian boy who, 
shooting from a balcony, hit a Tartar, but finding he had 
not killed him, went down into the street and put a second 
bullet into his victim. As showing with what rapidity the 
fearful scenes in the streets changed, I may say that just 
as this murderer was turning to leave his victim, two Tartar 
water-carriers threw themselves upon him and cut him limb 
from limb. 

There was a tragic incident where a father left his son 
locked up in a fruit shop before going on the roof to assist 
his compatriots. The father was unable to leave the roof 
for nearly three days, and when he did come down he 
found his shop intact and still bolted from the outside, 
but his son was dead, a bullet fired through a chink in the 
door having struck him in the heart. 

A fair young Armenian posed as an Englishman by 
wearing an English cap and smoking a briar pipe. Near 
his house the Tartars saw through his disguise and fired, 
but they failed to hit him, and he escaped. 

In the Parapet, where fighting went on for three days, 
about 100 Tartars and Armenians, fifty a-side, came 
together, and used their revolvers and daggers with the 
most terrible results. The Armenians drew the Tartars 
nearer towards their own quarter, when some of their 
number got behind the Tartars, with the result that 
scarcely a man escaped. In fifteen minutes there was 
not a living soul in the street, but ninety dead bodies 
remained. There were other fights in this street, and 
many Tartars and Armenians were shot as they attempted 
to remove their dead. 



THE FIRST (FEBRUARY) MASSACRES. 163 

Any account of what took place must be imperfect 
without a reference to the part played by the Cossacks. 
These soldiers robbed the people under circumstances of 
exceptional cruelty, and it is known that they held flying 
Armenians until their pursuers got near enough to shoot. 
There were thousands of instances of their demanding 
money for succouring Armenians, and even when martial 
law was declared they were known to tear up passports 
and rob the owners. 

This is a short and imperfect catalogue of the February 
atrocities, which, until a month ago, were thought to be 
without a parallel in the records of Caucasian troubles. 
Now we know that their most terrible features have been 
made to look less horrible, if that be possible, by the 
barbarities, outrages, and wholesale destruction of life 
and property during the fearful inter-tribal struggles of 
September. 



M 2 



CHAPTER XIV. 
THE "CHUCKSEE WUCKSEE " AT BAKU. 

MR. HERBERT COXON AND THE MOLOKANS — THE RISE OF ALI IBN ABI 
TALIB — ELECTED CALIPHA IN 656 — ASSASSINATED BY FANATICS 

IN 661 DESCENDANTS OF ALI FIGHT FOR THE CALIPHATE — 

HASAN, THE FIFTH CALIPHA, POISONED BY ONE OF HIS WIVES — 
HISTORY OF THE SHIITES — HOSEIM, SECOND SON OF ALI — THE 
"CHUCKSEE WUCKSEE" CEREMONIES AT BAKU — "CUTTING" 

DAY — BOY PERFORMERS YOUTHS BEAT THEMSELVES WITH 

CHAINS AND WHITE-ROBED MEN CUT THEIR HEADS WITH KINJALS 
— STAGGERING BLOOD-SOAKED FIGURES. 

There is no English work in which the Caucasian 
version of the Mahomedan "Chucksee Wucksee" ceremony 
is described. It is a Mahomedan ceremony in which the 
fanatical participants (ciit and otherwise mutilate them- 
selves. It is known tb^-Englishmen in the Caucasus as 
"The Chucksee Wucksee." Twenty years ago Mr. Herbert 
Coxon (Newcastle-on-Tyne), in his narrative of a carpet- 
buying journey to the East, mentioned a peculiar Russian 
sect, the Molokans, the members of which mutilated them- 
selves. " They are,'' he says, " strongly represented at 
Baku, and have a whole street to themselves, where they 
carry on the business of bakers." This is the only 
reference I have been able to find in an English work 
referring to Caucasian racial and religious subjects. 

When I witnessed the ceremony in Baku, just three weeks 
after the February massacres, I was successful in collecting 
some information about the origin and character of the 
ceremony. This I am now publishing for the first time, and 







I 









*ar".rrtr 



*(»(»»»• ~- 



SCKNiCS AT A " C H U f 



KSKK CliUKMONV OF S E LF- M L' TI LATION . 



[7-<. /ac-i'A'iV 164. 



THE "CHUCKSEE WUCKSEE" AT BAKU. 165 

with it I am giving my own impressions of what I think will 
be admitted to be an extraordinary display of religious 
fanaticism. The story of the chief characters is easily told. 

Ali Ibn Abi Talib, the truest and bravest of the prophet's 
followers (a nephew and son-in-law of Mahomed by his 
wife Fatima), was bom 600 A.D., at Mecca. In 656, when 
Othman was assassinated, Ali was elected Calipha, but not 
with universal approbation. He was constantly at war with 
rebels. Although he was successful for a time, the rebels 
in the end started to gain ground. On January 22nd, 661, 
he was attacked by three fanatics, and died of his many 
wounds two days after. In valour, virtue and piety, he 
ranked foremost among his contemporaries. As the son- 
in-law of the Prophet his followers regarded him as his 
legitimate successor, and the legitimists of Islamism for 
centuries persisted in demanding the Caliphate for his 
sucCSssors^'the ATides. The insurrections became a danger 
to "THe existence of the Caliphate, since the Persians, for 
nationalist reasons, had, in their opposition to Arabism, 
commenced to use the Legitimist principle as a means of 
furthering their own ends. In Persia the veneration of 
Ali has developed into a sentimental cult, and in some 
parts he even overshadows Mahomed. Descendants of 
Ali (Sherriefs, i.e. nobles) still rule in Morocco, Mecca and 
South Arabia, and his grave at Kufa is visited by large 
numbers of pilgrim Shiites. 

Hasan, the fifth Calipha, and the eldest son of Fatima 
(Mahomed's daughter) and Ali, succeeded his father, but 
only ruled about six months, when he abdicated in favour 
of Muawiyah, the founder of the Omayad dynasty, on con- 
dition that he was to resume ofifice at Muawiyah's death. 
Hasan was poisoned by one of his wives, who had been 
instigated to do the deed by Yezid, the son of Muawiyah. 



i66 BAKU. 

In this way started the Shiite schism. 

The Shiite name is derived from the Arab word " Shiah," 
meaning a sect. The Shiites beheve that Ali, son-in-law 
of Mahomed, was the rightful successor of the prophet, 
and for this reason they display quite a fanatical venera- 
tion for his memory. According to them the first three 
Caliphas, Abu Bekr, Omar, and Othman, were usurpers, 
and an essential part of their religious practice is to curse 
and denounce the memories of these rulers. As these 
Caliphas are held in high reverence by the orthodox 
Mahomedans (Sunnites) the animosity between the rival 
sects is of the fiercest possible character, and has for many 
centuries been the cause of a number of terrible battles. 
Ali and his two sons having been murdered, the Shiites 
consider it a religious duty to wreak vengeance on the 
Sunnites. Persia is the stronghold of the Shiites, who are 
also to be found in Central Asia and India, numbering in 
all about 18,000,000 persons. 

Hosein, second son of Ali and Fatima, was, on the 
death of his brother Hasan, considered by the Shiites as 
the rightful heir to the Calipha. On the death of Muawiyah 
(680) Hosein attempted to make good his claim against 
Yezid I., but on October loth of the same year he was 
defeated and killed by Yezid's troops at Kerbela, near the 
Euphrates. The place where he died (Kerbela, near 
Meshed) afterwards became a place much frequented by 
pilgrims, while the date of his death (loth Mohammaram) 
is still considered in Persia a day of mourning, and the 
celebrations are of the character of a theatrical represen- 
tation of his unfortunate end. 

The martyrdom of Hasan and of his brother Hosein is 
annually commemorated by the Shiites during the first ten 
days of the month of Mohammaram (meaning in Arabic 



THE "CHUCKSEE WUCKSEE" AT BAKU. 167 

" The Prohibited," and alluding to the fact that in pre- 
Islamitic Arabia war was prohibited in this month). Moham- 
maram is the first month in the Mahomedan lunar year, 
and is kept up by the Shiites as a period of penance and 
mourning in commemoration of their national saint, the 
Iman Hosein. 

The Shiites profess allegiance to a line of twelve Imans, 
beginning with AH and ending with Al Mahdi, who 
mysteriously disappeared, and for whose return the faithful 
are still waiting. In the meantime, they receive religious 
and legal decisions from Mudgtahids, a class of authorities 
not recognised by the Sunnites, except in the case of the 
founders of the four orthodox Sunnite schools. 

That is the story of the origin of the " Chucksee 
Wucksee " ceremony so far as I am able to tell it. 

This year the ceremonies in Baku, at the oil fields, and 
in the surrounding villages were more elaborate than 
usual. There were several reasons for this. They took 
place a fortnight after the February massacres, and this 
was the first time they were conducted in the public streets 
of modern Baku. The authorities, hoping to please the 
Mahomedan part of the population, granted permission 
for the holding of a large number of ceremonies in the 
open air. 

The ceremonies covered a period of no less than ten 
days, starting with street processions, and finishing on the 
last day with the wildest of ceremonies and self-mutilation. 
On the "cutting" day I went early to one of the 
Mahomedan business quarters of the city ; everywhere, 
between eight and nine, I found the streets thronged with 
Tartars, Persians, and Russians. Evidently a general 
holiday had been proclaimed for the Mahomedans. 
Those who knew Baku best told me that they had never 



i68 BAKU. 

seen so many veiled Mahomedan women in the streets. 
These women, in their shroud-like dust cloths, sat in 
crowds on the flat roofs of the houses overlooking the 
streets specially selected and barricaded by the authorities 
for the ceremonies. 

Ceremonies started simultaneously in a score of places. 
The one I witnessed was conducted on a pretentious scale, 
and I saw it from beginning to end from the roof of a 
house. It began when two horses, caparisoned with black 
velvet, and carrying a circus-like saddle arrangement, were 
slowly led in at the end of the street. These were the 
equine representatives of the sacred animals which carried 
the martyred I mans. They were led and not ridden, 
though I was told that one of the animals is usually ridden 
by a boy, who grips the handle of a short sword which is 
thrust through his turban, some might think through his 
forehead, so realistic is the thrust, and so horribly real the 
look of agony on the face of the young equestrian 
performer. 

One of the horses, made restive by the melancholy 
wailings of the crowd behind, lashed out at some of the 
followers of Ali, and had to be taken out of the procession; 
the other one, walking with all the slow dignity of the 
familiar equine drum-carrier of the English Horse Guards, 
led the procession once up the street and back again before 
it also was removed. 

All the time, men, in small contingents, moved about the 
streets, following a small procession of leaders carrying 
religious flags, and a most miscellaneous collection of 
devices, beating their chests, and mournfully, crying 
" Chucksee Wucksee " (English pronunciation). 

Others took confetti out of a box, carried on poles, sedan- 
fashion, and threw it over the people who clustered round. 





CKKEMON^' OF SELF-MI TIIATH 



U'o jacc Pa^^c i6a, 



THE "CHUCKSEE WUCKSEE" AT BAKU. 169 

beat themselves still more vigorously, and displayed every 
possible sign of suffering excruciating anguish. A line of 
black-robed figures, keeping time with the regular beat of 
a drum, swung rhythmically down one side of the roadway 
and up the other. Behind this contingent moved two 
youths, who beat their own backs with chains, which they 
swung across their shoulders, while they loudly chanted 
the words " Chucksee Wucksee." The chains struck and 
cut the flesh at every beat on the roughly made drum. 
Juvenile followers of the prophet beat their naked chests, 
and as they had been doing this every morning for ten 
days the flesh was red, and in some cases, contused and 
bleeding. 

More lines of black and red -robed figures were led out of 
an ordinary yard, but it was not until the " white men," 
who were to do penance by cutting them selves, made their 
appearance that the moaning developed into a frenzied 
roar, and the words, " Chucksee Wucksee " were shouted 
with fearful emphasis. Those in charge, a number of 
vigorous men, wearing ordinary clothes and brimless felts, 
addressed the robed figures in impassioned language, and 
with much theatrical gesticulation. Thereupon, men 
wailed, sobbed, and vigorously beat themselves. At the 
end of nearly an hour the chief performers, those wearing 
white and the only ones who cut themselves, came out a 
second time. Moving in a line, swaying forwards and 
backwards to the beat of the drum, and with still louder 
shouts of " Chucksee Wucksee," they passed quickly down 
one side of the street: When they were coming up the 
other side, the masters of ceremonies, carrying a supply of 
kinjals, walked close to these men in white, and, by 
shouting and urging them to wilder movements, worked 
them up into a state of frenzy that was awful to behold. 






I70 BAKU. 

They put the terrible kinjals into the hands of the 
: performers, and it was with these weapons that they started 
I cutting their heads. Each man, grasping a kinjal in his 
hand, brought it up in front and down on the crown of 
his head. Almost at every stroke the blood gushed forth, 
and soon one man after another became a staggering, 
blood-soaked figure. Many grew too weak to strike them- 
selves, and, fainting from loss of blood, fell on their facesj 
and were either dragged or led away by those who had 
handed them the weapons. 

I was told that at the ceremonies, especially at Kishli* 
and the oil fields at Balakhani, men cut their heads open, 
and inflicted fatal wounds. Some of those who cut them- 
selves most savagely were^^^jcpiatjng the sins of wealthy 
Mahomedans. The money paid to them by rich sinners 
they shared with the priests. 

* The festivals at Kishli, a dirty little Tartar village passed by the 
traveller on the way out to Balakhani, are famous throughout the 
Tartar world for the amount of self-mutilation that is indulged in. 
Why this should be is in a way accounted for by the fact that Kishli is 
one of the most crime-stained places m the Caucasus. The population 
is chiefly composed of oil line thieves, men who tap the pipe lines laid 
from Balakhani to the refineries at Baku, and who have repeatedly 
refused to accept employment as pipe-line custodians. 



CHAPTER XV. 
BAKU IN SEPTEMBER. 

SHUSHA's example — SHUSHA IN RUINS — BAKU ARMING THE SOLDIERS 

AND TRAM STRIKERS — A DAY OF SMALL SKIRMISHES — " THE 

BLACK HUNDRED " TARTAR QUARTER DESCRIBED — THE FIRST 

VICTIM, A MAHOMEDAN SHOPKEEPER — ARMENIAN WATCHMEN — 
NO QUARTER; "AN EYE FOR AN EYE" — THE OIL FIELDS ABLAZE. 

" Millions sterling have been turned into smoke and 
cinder, and thousands of Persian, Turkish, Gruzin, Armenian 
and Russian nationals have either lost their lives by bullet, 
knife, or firebrand, or been maimed for life or wounded."* 

" The accounts of the massacres, though incomplete, are 
full and lengthy enough to prove that in revolting cruelty 
— much of it indescribable for moral reasons — and fiendish 
treachery what has taken place is without a parallel in the 
annals of Caucasian warfare and revolution. In the great 
blood-red picture there is one ray of light ; it is there as 
the result of many acts of heroism which show that chivalry 
and human daring have not deserted these blood-stained 
spots in the Caucasus. . . . Acts of heroism ? Yes, many, 
for there are heroes up to high Western ideals even in the 
oil fields." t 

The slaughter was terrible ; it beggared description, and 
those who are least likely to work up the sensational and 
theatrical cannot deny the awful magnitude of the 

* Morning Post. 

t J. D. H. in the Daily News. 



172 BAKU. 

massacres. I have no desire to paint a too lurid picture of 
this month of horrors ; my story, while it may be the 
fullest published in this country, is nothing more than a 
severe epitome of Russian accounts, many of which have 
passed through the hands of the censor, supplemented by 
extracts from the letters of eye-witnesses. 

Some say Shusha* started the war of races at Baku. 
The rumour reached Baku that the Armenians had gained 

* Shusha, in ruins, stands on a terrace overhanging a valley and is 
backed by a mountain, at the foot of which flow two small brooks. 
The ancient part of the town is protected by walls, in which there are 
three gates — one leading to Elisavetpol, the other to Shemakha, and 
the third to Keuriss and Nakhitshevan. In the sixteenth century, 
when it was the capital of the Khanate of Karabagh, it was besieged 
by the Persians and Turks. The Russians occupied it in 1805 ; 
eighteen years later they "incorporated" it. The Mahomedans of 
Shusha are noted throughout the Caucasus for their fanaticism, and 
during the festivals in honour of Hussein and Ali there is more self- 
mutilation in this small place than in almost any other part of the 
Caucasus. Shusha is famous for its hammered and filigree silver 
work. It has weaving mills, and an important trade is done in silks, 
woollens, cereals and colza. There are also some copper mines in the 
mountains. Only one London paper, the Morning Leader, I think, 
described the destruction of Shusha during the first week of the 
massacres. A correspondent of that paper wrote — " As I neared my 
journey's end I met hundreds of armed and mounted Tartars. One 
old man, of superior station, asked me where I was going. 'To 
Shusha,' I told him. 'Shusha is destroyed,' he said, gravely. The 
last part of the drive to Shusha is magnificent. The town lies at a 
height of 5,000 ft., and is visible two or three hours before one reaches 
it. The fine post-road winds backwards and forwards on the face of 
the mountains, and the view widens with every turn. A light smoke 
was curling up from the ruins when I arrived. It was indeed a 
deplorable sight. Street after street was in ruins, absolutely nothing 
left but the bare walls. Whose fault it is that the best part of this fine 
town of 30,000 inhabitants has been destroyed it would be hard to say. 
It may recover eventually from this great disaster, but not for years, 
and, judging by the temper of both Tartars and Armenians, no real 



BAKU IN SEPTEMBER. 173 

the upper hand at Shusha, and Mahomedans were urged 
to seek revenge. The Armenians declared that the 
Mahomedans intended to start fighting if the Armenian 
prisoners accused of the murder of Prince Nakasheidze, the 
Governor of the city, were dismissed. Mysterious meetings 
were held at the houses of the leaders of the factions. It 
was known that after the February massacres both the 
Armenian and Mahomedan faction ists started to arm ; 
some did this legally, licences being freely issued by the 
authorities, but thousands did not trouble about licences, 
and openly prepared for the next fight. Large quantities 
of arms were secretly stored in the city and on some of the 
small islands of the Caspian Sea. During the last days of 
August the people of Baku lived on a hidden volcano of 
race plots, labour tyranny, political conspiracy and 
revolutionary propaganda. 

In some quarters it was felt that if those overwhelming 
fountains of Tartar and Armenian feeling, made bitter as 
gall by religious and political antagonism, thousands of 
private feuds, and the angry reminiscences of the February 
massacres, were allowed to belch forth again there could 
only be one end — the almost total annihilation of the 
Russian half of the world's oil industry (so far as this 
could be effected by the firing of the oil fields and the 
derangement, if not the destruction, of the gigantic oil 
distribution systems), the burning of the city, the fiendish 
employment of the revolver, rifle, kinjal and firebrand, and 
most awful and indescribable chaos, with the customary 
Caucasian aftermath of mutual recrimination, lying reports, 

reconciliation is likely to take place. Enough bitterness has been 
awakened to last for a generation, and the resources of the Russian 
Government will be taxed to the uttermost to restore any semblance 
of peace in this part of the Empire." 



174 BAKU. 

and massacres in the mountains, where Baku is looked 
upon as the industrial metropolis of the Caucasus, fit place, 
these fierce fighters think, for the starting of a war either 
against capital or the Government. 

There was a strike of tramway employes, quite a 
peaceful affair until the authorities placed soldiers in 
charge of the trams. But, beyond a half-hearted attack on 
the soldiers, a cow-boy display of shooting in the air, and 
the arrest of several strikers, nothing serious happened. 

In connection with the allegation that the affair started 
at the trams it will be remembered that when the February 
massacres began there was a great deal of shooting from 
the trams. Indeed, one of these trams, while it was being 
driven by Armenians past a row of small, lock-up shops, 
formed a moving target for Tartar bullets. In Baku, 
where there are many steep hills, the tramway system is 
small and comparatively unimportant ; the small cars are 
drawn by horses and the line is laid along the level 
thoroughfare which skirts the bay. At this point there 
are many Tartar shops, and both Tartars and Armenians 
are employed in large numbers at the ship-repairing yards 
and wharves. 

On the fateful 2nd, shooting in the Petrovsk Square 
brought Mahomedans and Armenians into conflict. It 
was a day of small skirmishes, but I get very near to the 
truth when I say that on the night of the 2nd the chiefs 
were hard at work preparing for a life-and-death struggle 
which they were probably not too anxious to avoid and 
which they knew only too well was destined to take place 
in the city of blood. 

A reign of terror — the second in a single year — had 
started, and many blood-curdling incidents, omens of the 



BAKU IN SEPTEMBER. 175 

coming trouble, took place in the streets and at the oil 
fields. 

Hooligans — the famous members of "The Black 
Hundred " — started to attack workmen at the oil fields. 
A mechanic employed by the European Petroleum 
Company, Ltd., of London, when on the way from Bala- 
khani station to his home at the oil fields, was attacked by 
a man wearing a black cap. He asked the fellow why he 
interfered with him, and the answer he got was " Cannot 
you see I wear a black cap ? I belong to ' The Black 
Hundred,' and we are just going to do as we like." The 
hooligan then sprang at the mechanic, who received injuries 
which were so serious that he had to be conveyed to the 
hospital at Balakhani. 

* * * * 

A strong Tartar quarter is the top of Bailov and near 
the jetties of the Kavkas and Mercury Steam Navigation 
Company ; from there it extends along the northern wall 
of the citadel, through Tzitzianonov Street and Shem- 
khinka, to a dangerous point of contact with the Armenian 
settlement, the scene of some of the most frightful 
encounters in Baku race warfare. At the outbreak of 
hostilities these thoroughfares were strongly held by 
Mahomedans, the Christian part of the population having 
abandoned their homes and sought safety in Armenian 
centres. 

Near the station is the chief fighting colony of the 
Armenians, Georgians and Russians. On the 2nd this 
was guarded by armed Armenians, a precaution taken as 
early as August 20th, when some Armenian houses and 
shops were pillaged and several Armenians were done to 
death in the Tartar quarter. Incendiaries were busy at 
Armenian houses on the Tchemberkent side of the city. 



176 BAKU. 

while bands of hooligans were going about committing 
numerous acts of cruelty and murder. When the military 
and Cossacks drove these cowards out of the streets, they 
started to shoot from behind corners and out of windows, 
but a few volleys fired by the military put an end to their 
pillaging for the time being. 

Before the night of the 2nd had come to an end one 
street after another had been fired. Government Street 
being one of the first. Miscreants — a terrible horde of 
bandits — from the outlying villages attempted to get into 
the city, but were met by the soldiers and Cossacks outside 
Tchemberkent and Shemkhinka, where many of them 
were shot. 

"A cracking of shots started a time of mutual 
destruction," is one description of the start on the 
morning of the 3rd. Revolvers were fired in the lower 
part of the city, but some declare that they were fired in 
Petrovsk Square, where the soldiers were guarding the 
trams. 

In Krasnovodsk Street a Mahomedan shop owner was 
wounded. He was carried on a stretcher along the 
Chadrov Street and up Tartar Street towards the Tartar 
quarter. The crowd of Tartars soon became a howling 
mob, " until," says a witness of the procession, " shooting 
started in different parts of the town." An eye-witness 
says : — " At five o'clock in the evening the Mahomedan 
owner of a meat shop was fatally wounded in Krasnovodsk 
Street, near Bagirov Square. He was taken to Chadrov 
Street, where he was laid on a stretcher and carried through 
the streets, followed by a crowd of Mussulmans with cocked 
revolvers. The crowd grew into a small army of excited 
Tartars. The procession moved up Tartar Street towards 
the Military Hospital. Then revolver and rifle shots were 



BAKU IN SEPTEMBER. 177 

heard in different parts of the town. That night there was 
a great deal of firing." The official version of this incident 
is that the Tartar was killed in an ordinary quarrel with 
an Armenian. 

It was then that numerous armed mobs came together, 
and neither gave quarter. In the Armenian quarter 
Mahomedans, irrespective of calling or position, were 
mercilessly beaten and murdered, while in the Tartar part 
of the city the Mahomedans wreaked a terrible revenge 
on all the Armenians they could get hold of. The night 
that followed was comparatively quiet, says one writer, 
and we are told that there were no volleys, no fires, and 
not even an occasional shot — only a death-like quiet in 
the city of so many bitter hatreds. 

The wildest of rumours were afloat. Blood had been shed 
on the Sunday in this hotbed of revolution ; denuded of 
troops, a wholesale massacre was inevitable. There were 
too many murders for records to be kept, and too many 
to be forgotten by these merciless enemies, or to make 
peace possible without another trial of strength. 

Six Armenians, two armed with rifles and four with 
revolvers, shot a water carrier in Krasnevodsk Street, and 
a Tartar workman received a revolver bullet at the corner 
of Bolshaya Morskaya and Raratine Streets. Two 
Mussulmans in Charden Street, taking some running 
figures for Armenians, fired, but missed; but seeing an 
Armenian watchman in the yard of another house they 
fired and wounded him. In the same street another 
Armenian watchman was fatally wounded, and the body 
lay on the pavement until dark before it was removed. 

It was a bad day for the watchmen of Baku. These 
watchmen are a creation of those fearful February days 
when so many wealthy Armenians and their families were 

B. N 



178 BAKU. 

burned to death in their homes, and in some respects 
resemble the watchmen of our own feudal days. At night 
they wander round the houses and through the gardens of 
rich Armenians. Every few minutes they blow a low- 
sounding whistle ; in this way the inmates are able to tell 
where the watchman is, and it is only when the whistle is 
not heard for some time that they know something unusual 
is happening. 

Let us leave Baku, bleeding and burning — ^an unpro- 
tected city plundered by its own people. 




Jnivasav 



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MASSACRED ARMENIANS EAID OUT EOR ELRIAL. 



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CHAPTER XVI. 
THE BALAKHANI OIL FIELDS ABLAZE. 

FROM BAKU TO BALAKHANI — THE MANTASCHEFF PLOTS ON FIRE 

SOME THRILLING EPISODES — THE MYSTERY OF THE BELL AT 

BALAKHANI ARMENIANS DEFEAT THE TARTARS TARTARS 

CHARGED BY COSSACKS ARRIVAL OF TARTAR CHIEFS THE 

FIGHT AT THE HOSPITAL — TERRIBLE BATTLE AT THE MAN- 
TASCHEFF WORKS — ATTACK ON THE PROPERTY OF THE GOVERNOR 
OF THE CAUCASUS. 

People flying from Baku, when near Kishli, beheld a 
forest of derricks burning beneath a pall of smoke. Dread 
news, the oil fields were in flames ! 

" Although it was two o'clock in the afternoon we could 
not see the sun," says one, while another declares " that at 
Saboonchi the smoke was so thick that it pained our 
eyes." Again : " On the way out we saw large numbers 
of workmen, with faces black as the smoke, standing help- 
lessly near their homes. At the station there were a few 
soldiers and groups of men, who, flying from the oil fields, 
passed up and down the platform, looking from time to 
time in the direction of the fires and hearing the yells of 
the murderers and the shrieks of their victims. Opposite 
the station, on the Ter-Akopoff property, wells threw out 
fire and flame^ which shot up into the smoke. Soon 
tongues of fire grew into one great blaze ; then there was 
a crash, down came the derricks, and the sparks flew 
amongst the crowds which were seeking safety in flight. 
Men, looking like demons, plunged into the smoke, only 
to emerge and dash off towards the station ; these were 

N 2 



i8o BAKU. 

workmen escaping with their belongings. The Man- 
tascheff properties started burning, and the smoke made 
it impossible for us to see the great blaze beyond." 

Here is another account : 

" At Saboonchi station I saw a number of men in 
white overalls ; they were the ambulance company. 
From them I learned that many of the workmen and 
office staiifs had sought safety at the Saboonchi hospital, 
but a few were making for Baku (twelve miles away), 
and that those who were at Zabrat could not be 
reached. We proceeded towards the hospital. At the 
head of our small procession was one of the ambulance 
men carrying a white flag with a blue cross. Passing 
across a lake we entered a region of thick and impene- 
trable darkness. Our nerves were at the highest tension, 
there was not one of us who did not know that he might 
at any moment get a bullet, but, looking at the flag that 
the brave fellow carried in front of us, we felt secure and 
knew that we would not be deliberately shot at. We 
arrived safely at the hospital, where we saw thousands of 
men, every one with trouble written on his face, promen- 
ading the yard. Many were armed with revolvers and 
rifles, and at openings in the walls patrols were on the 
look-out for foes who might attack. All were hungry, and 
a little bread brought into the hospital was quickly con- 
sumed. I returned the same day and arrived safely at Baku." 

The man who wrote this story in Russian got back 
to Baku, He was a journalist, and when, a few days 
later, he was shot dead in the streets of the city, his paper, 
in a black border announcement, said he had died doing 
his duty — the dangerous one of collecting massacre infor- 
m*ition in the open streets. 



THE BALAKHANI OIL FIELDS ABLAZE. i8i 

A telephone message stating that shooting had re-started 
at Baku caused a wild panic amongst the Armenians at 
Balakhani ; they hurriedly closed their shops and fled to 
the Armenian centres of safety. Throughout the night 
armed Tartars drove wildly about the oil fields in phaetons- 

On the morning of the 3rd the rumour was spreading 
that a Tartar boring master, employed by the Armenian 
firm of Mantascheff and Company, had been killed near 
the Lilanzov property. The Tartars ran to the spot and 
held a meeting, the result of which remained a mystery. 
The Tartars and Georgians continued trading till one 
o'clock. In the meantime Tartar bands marched and 
drove about the oil fields in search of stray enemies. 

Every hour accounts of the massacres at Baku were 
telephoned to the oil fields and inflamed the feeling there. 
Then followed an ominous silence ; the telephones were 
unresponsive for nearly a day, and there was no railway 
communication with the city. This increased the feeling 
of uneasiness and led the crowds to believe that something 
serious was taking place at Baku. The feeling amongst 
the Armenians became one of tense anxiety, while the 
Tartars collected in crowds on the permanent way at the 
station. Evidently they were preparing to start hostilities, 
but wanted reliable information from Baku. There were 
no soldiers or police to be seen. 

The Armenians, hidden in their rooms, awaited attack. 
Sunday wore on till four o'clock, when shots were heard. 
These were fired by members of " The Black Hundred," 
who hoped in this way to get the Tartars to start an 
attack on the Armenians. Still the attack was delayed ; 
the Tartars were still waiting. Towards night hundreds 
of armed Mussulmans arrived from the adjoining oil field 
of Ramani for the purpose of deciding on a plan of 



i82 BAKU. 

campaign with the Balakhani Tartars. Balakhani was in 
danger, and every one expected shooting to commence at 
any moment. Still the evening passed off quietly. At 
four o'clock in the morning from twenty to thirty shots 
rang out amongst the derricks at Saboonchi, and the bell at 
Balakhani Church — the Christian place of worship at the 
oil fields — tolled ominously, sacred messenger of coming 
carnage. The ringing of this bell is one of the many 
mysteries of a night of awful suspense ; no one has been 
able to explain by whom or why it was tolled. 

The Armenians had concentrated at the fewest possible 
points in order to offer better resistance. At Saboonchi 
they collected in the workmen's barracks, and at Ramani 
and the outlying field at Zabrat at the MantaschefF works 
and other points. That night Balakhani was in flames, 
and pillage and massacre started at Ramani. Mingling 
with the crackling of the fire were the poppings of 
revolvers and the louder reports of rifles, sounds which 
told only too plainly the fate of those Armenians caught 
by the Tartars at Ramani. That night the soldiers and 
Cossacks, fearing an ambush, refused to proceed to 
Ramani, but on the following morning a detachment of 
Cossacks went out. Finding themselves besieged by 
larger numbers of Mahomedans, the Armenians saw that 
it would be impossible to hold out much longer, and, 
escorted by the Cossacks in groups of 200 and 300, they 
made their way to the Saboonchi Hospital of the Pro- 
ducers' Association. Although Ramani was ablaze from 
end to end the Russian workmen refused to leave with the 
Armenians and remained in their barracks. 

When the morning of the 4th dawned thousands of 
Tartars, armed with revolvers, guns and kinjals, col- 
lected once more on the railway line. A few minutes' 



THE BALAKHANI OIL FIELDS ABLAZE. 183 

talk, and they started their bloody work — a long week of 
fearful carnage. ^■^-^'^ 

First of all, they attacked the technical inspection build- 
ing of the Baku Producers' Association, in which a number 
of Armenian workmen had taken refuge. The Armenians 
made a fight of it; they drove off the Tartars, who re- 
treated to the railway line, their favourite rendezvous, 
and there aimlessly fired about twenty volleys into the air 
before they went off to the Va Wotan works, where many 
Armenian workmen lived. There the Tartars suffered a 
second defeat. They were charged by Cossacks, who, 
using their sabres, cut deeply into them, and while many 
were killed and wounded, a number threw away their arms 
and fled. The Tartars never expected they would be 
charged by Cossacks ; rather did they expect they would 
be left free to murder the Armenians. When more Cossacks 
arrived the Tartars were in full flight. 

The Cossacks, having cleared the streets, left the place. 
Tartar shops were re-operied, and reassuring news came 
from Baku. Those who arrived by train stated that order 
had been restored, and confirmation of this was found in 
the resumption of railway communication with Baku. 

Unfortunately one of the trains from Baku brought 
a number of Tartar chiefs, who were welcomed with the 
wildest of cheering as they stepped on to the platform. 
The Tartar yells reached the school of the Producers' 
Association, where the Armenians, believing that their 
foes had set out again on their mission of murder, fired 
into the crowds assembled on the railway lines and in the 
square near the station entrance. "The Tartars started 
slowly. . . . The flames from burning derricks and oil 
wells leaped up into the awful pall of smoke which hung 
over the inferno. Looking ^towards Balakhani from the 



i84 BAKU. 

Saboonchi Station I realised for the first time in my life 
all that can possibly be meant by the words ' Hell let 
loose'" (says one who was present). "Men crawled or 
dashed out of the flames only to be shot down by 
Tartars. . . . When I got out of the station at Bala- 
khani I thought the scene might well be compared with 
the last days of Pompeii. It was made worse than any- 
thing that could have taken place at Pompeii by the ping 
of rifle and revolver bullets, the terrific thunder of explod- 
ing oil tanks, the fierce yells of the murderers, and the 
dying screams of their victims. The bazaar (that thorough- 
fare of small, filthy shops, the worst of their kind in Russia) 
was converted into a shambles." 

On the 5th, nearly all the Saboonchi Armenians, fully 
2,000 in number, had collected at the hospital. It was an 
awful spectacle, this crowded mass of excited humanity. 
There was scarcely anything to eat, not even dry bread for 
the invalids. Many Armenians were armed. In the square 
a number of Cossacks guarded the hospital and technical 
survey ofifices. No Tartars were to be seen. The 
Armenians placed outposts to protect the hospital against 
incendiaries. Suddenly, some Tartars were seen approach- 
ing with two barrels of mazoot. This news spread like 
wildfire ; the Tartar incendiaries were trying to fire the 
hospital, and the Armenians opened a wild fusilade upon 
them. There was an unexpected denouement. The 
Cossacks, thinking the Armenians were shooting at 
them, wildly returned the fire, "evidently," said an eye- 
witness, "as a result of fear, because only a couple of 
Cossack horses had been killed by the Armenian fire." 
The Tartars, startled by this unexpected development, 
disappeared without taking part in the mUee. 

There were some terrible atrocities on the property of 



/ 



THE BALAKHANI OIL FIELDS ABLAZE. 185 

an Anglo- Russian company. An Armenian refugee, flying 
from the Ter-Akopoff property, was caught by this com- 
pany's watchmen, who dismembered the body and threw 
the pieces into the flames. There were many victims on 
this property, where the watchmen displayed revolting 
cruelty. Some men sought safety in the Ramani Lake 
tunnel of the Moscow-Caucasian Company. They were 
discovered by some fiends, who packed the entrance with 
inflammable materials and then burned them to death. 

On the 7th, Tartars and Lezghins laid a regular siege to 
the Mantascheff" works. A mob, armed with all kinds of 
weapons, made an attack, but were beaten off by the 
volleys of the besieged. Then a small army of Tartars 
arrived, some with cartloads of mazoot and kerosene, but 
the troops put in a timely appearance and fired into the 
attackers. Some resisted, but the majority fled terror- 
stricken. Smoke was seen to rise. The Tartars said this 
was their work and jubilantly shouted that every man 
on the works had either been shot or burned to death. 
Another report of this encounter was to the effect that Man- 
tascheff's men had been disarmed by the military and 
allowed to leave, the Tartars openly expressing their dis- 
pleasure with the troops for having prevented them from 
ending their ghoulish work. 

Even the oil property of the Viceroy of the Caucasus 
did not escape the attention of the incendiaries. Two 
derricks of the Khalafi and Mantascheff Companies at 
Balakhani were on fire. The flame spread to the Voron- 
tzov-Dashkori property (owned by the Viceroy), where 
eleven derricks were consumed. In the past year the 
Viceroy's property (Plot No. 5) produced about 40,000 
tons of oil. There were on the property twenty-seven 
wells, of which nineteen were producing, but when the 



i86 BAKU. 

struggle finished there were only four derricks left 

standing. 

* * • * 

There were thousands of tragedies. Tartars fired into 
the Melikov works at Ramani. Armenians, rushing from 
this place to a stone building some distance away, were 
shot down by Tartars lying in ambush. Seventy remained. 
The Tartars pumped kerosene into the cellars, set fire to 
the building, and burned every Armenian to death. At 
Ramani, an Armenian, an assistant drilling master 
employed by Mantaschefif, hid in the house of a rich 
Tartar. Armed Tartars lured him out with the promise 
that they would see him safely to the Mantascheff works 
at Zabrat. On the way they riddled him with bullets, 
cut up his dead body, and threw the pieces into a fire. At 
Ramani, three Armenians hid in a bailer between the 
boiler house of the Russian Oil Company, but a crippled 
watchman on the property shot them with a revolver and 
burned the bodies in the bailer, which, I should explain, 
is a huge elongated barrel, capable of bringing a ton of oil 
out of a well. 

Stories are told of the employment of artillery in the 
bombardment of buildings, conflagrations in which crowds 
of terrified victims were roasted to death, and the murder 
of men as they crawled out of reservoirs of oil. 



CHAPTER XVII. 

BALAKHANI (CONTINUED). THRILLING ACCOUNT OF A 
VISIT TO THE OIL FIELD. 

AN EYE FOR AN EYE — DEEDS OF HEROISM — A DARING RUSE — ARMENIANS 

DISGUISED AS COSSACKS STORY OF AN ARMENIAN CLERK — THE 

EXPERIENCES OF A HUNTED ARMENIAN — HIS ESCAPE. 

Looting and shooting were done by Tartars, Lezghins, 
Kazan Tartars, and Russian navvies. " It was," one report 
says, "with these fiends an eye for an eye and a tooth for a 
tooth, and at some parts of the oil fields this also correctly 
describes the conduct of some of the Armenian fighters." 
Hands raised to heaven, prayers for mercy, imprecations 
and curses, were all useless ; the man who once got on 
his knees never rose again. He was either shot with a 
revolver or slashed at and stabbed with the kinjal. 

After four days of fighting and when every oil plot was 
strewn with dead — heaps of dead, on which there shone a 
fierce September sun — the Armenians retained possession 
of several fortified buildings, including the school of the 
Producers' Association, standing in an excellent strategical 
position in a war of this kind, the Ramani ambulance 
building, and the stores of Goldlust, Bagdasar, Akopov 
and others. Communication between these places was 
maintained by small detachments of well mounted 
Armenians armed with rifles. Of these a Russian said : — 
" They conducted themselves like knights of old ; they took 
helpless people, women and children, away from positions 
of danger to places of safety. They were heroes." 



i88 BAKU. 

Some incidents in the massacres ought to live in those 
pages of Caucasian history which record the noble deeds 
of the fierce fighters of those parts. Stories of Scottish 
heroism — some fine old border tales — are likely to be 
recalled by an incident of the night of the 7th. 
Saboonchi, Ramani, and Balakhani were on fire, thou- 
sands of tons of oil, hundreds of derricks, and scores of 
workshops were feeding the flames. The Armenian 
defenders of the Ramani ambulance building were without 
water for the women and children. Placing the terrified 
women and children in several ambulance vans, some of 
the bravest of the Armenians, disguised as Cossacks, 
formed an escort, and the cavalcade of heroes moved away 
through crowds of Tartar enemies to the railway station. 
* * * * 

The following is a literal translation of the thrilling 
story of an Armenian who escaped from Balakhani : — 

"On the 2nd, while on the property of the Russian 
Naphtha Company at Balakhani (VII. group, about a 
mile N.W. of the Saboonchi station, on the outskirts of 
Balakhani), I heard that fighting had started in the city, 
and returned to my quarters, on No. ^6 plot at Saboonchi, 
less than half-a-mile S.W. of the station and the most 
southerly of the developed Saboonchi properties. A 
relation, who was lodging with me, arrived from the city, 
and somewhat allayed my fears by telling me that rioting 
had not started although many influential residents had 
left Baku by the Surakhani train and that crowds were 
rushing to the railway station. Rifle firing started in the 
city an hour after the train left. On the following day 
there were no disturbances at the oil fields, but work 
ceased at many properties on the Sunday. No amount of 



BALAKHANI. 189 

pleading, nor the offers of extra pay, would induce the 
workmen to go into the derricks. The night passed 
quietly, and I only heard a few shots fired. On Monday 
morning work was resumed, but soon abandoned. I was 
informed by telephone that there had been a conflict 
between Armenians and Mahomedans near the Saboon- 
chi railway station, and that the Mahomedans were 
assembling near the Balakhani offices of the Russian 
Naphtha Company. At two o'clock I was rung up by the 
Armenian clerk on our No. 140 Saboonchi property, on 
the shore of the Ramani lake. He informed me that he 
had just seen Tartars firing the wells on the No. 37 plot 
of the Raduga Company. The properties of the Sout- 
chastniki and Raduga Companies were the first to be 
fired. At the same time he told me that outside Tartars 
had appeared and asked the Tartars on his property 
whether the clerk was an Armenian. Having received an 
affirmative reply, they proposed that he should be killed, 
but those on the property did not agree with them. 
About mid-day I was informed that because the Tartars 
had started to fire the houses and oil fields, and also 
because the detachment of ten soldiers stationed in the 
office yard declared that they had been ordered to leave, 
the Armenians engaged at the office were preparing to 
remove to the property of the Soutchastniki Company 
(No. 13 group), half-way to the station. About half-an- 
hour later I was rung up from No. 140 plot of the 
company and informed that the Armenian clerk had been 
killed. This news caused me to leave my quarters ; 
closing them up I proceeded in a landau to one of the 
Naphtha Company's Balakhani properties. On the way 
there I met small crowds of Armenians and Russians. 
Once there, I was hidden in one of the rooms. My 



I90 BAKU. 

protectors, thinking I might be seen by Tartars who were 
collecting near the house, locked me up in a dark room. 
Opening the shutters a little, I could just manage to see 
what was going on outside. First there was an occasional 
shot, now and again a free exchange of shots, and then a 
regular fusilade. 

m * * -t: 

" The reflection of fire gradually spread over the sky ; one 
fire after another was started, and the one which was 
closest gradually came creeping up to the buildings of the 
Baku Naphtha Company, in which I had found refuge. 
It was a terrible night for me, an Armenian refugee. On 
the morning of the 7th, the third day of my confinement, 
my hosts told me that as the danger from fire had become 
so great they intended to abandon the house. They 
advised me to remain, lock myself in the bath-room, and, 
should the worst happen, jump out of the window and run 
for safety, exactly where or in what direction I did not 
quite know. However, I did not agree, and declared that 
I would leave the house with them. No sooner had we 
appeared in the yard than armed Tartars came forward to 
help the employes of the company. They assisted in the 
removal of a number of things and promised to take care 
of them. They did not touch me because, thank God, my 
hair is light in colour, and I was wearing an engineer's 
regulation cap. The engineers of the Naphtha Company 
thought they had done all they could when they entrusted 
me to the keeping of a Tartar, with instructions to take 
me to the wife of N. This Tartar, armed with a rifle, 
escorted me .... I felt as if I were choking. My throat 
was parched and my legs would hardly support me. Still, 
I marched on, expecting every moment to come across a 
Tartar who knew me and to meet my doom. At last I 



BALAKHANI. 191 

came to the place occupied by the wife of N. No sooner 
did she see me than she fled. At first I could not under- 
stand why she did this. I thought she was afraid, and 
trying to find her way into the yard of the company's 
workshops where her husband is engaged, but when I 
approached her in the yard she and her servant turned 
their backs on me, and, terror-stricken, screamed, ' Leave 
us.' Where was I to go? Terror-stricken, I rushed 
through the first open door I saw ; this led to the rooms 
of one of the turners of the company. Introducing myself 
as a friend of N., I told him I was a new man who had 
just arrived in the Caucasus, and that what was going on 
had affected me most terribly. I mentioned that I had 
left N.'s rooms along with many others, and asked for 
permission to sit down and rest for a few minutes. I was 
given some tea and asked to enter the room. After about 
two or three hours, when there appeared to be no more 
danger from fire to the rooms of N., and all had again 
returned home, I sent a note asking him to send a convey- 
ance in which I could return to him unobserved. I noticed 
that my long stay in the room of the turner was causing 
suspicion. N. sent the following reply : — ' Tell him to 
entirely forget my existence. I have a wife and child ; let 
him take care of himself as best he can.' The workmen 
who brought the message appeared doubtful how to act, 
and I offered to go with them to N. and explain the 
matter. But how was I to get to him while there were 
Tartars all round me ? . . . I have to mention here that 
my note only reached N. after the fire had broken out 
once more, and when they had again left the house. I 
explained to the workmen that N. was probably agitated 
and had not had time to trouble about me. I asked for 
permission to remain until the fires were quelled. Late in 



192 BAKU. 

the evening N. asked a mechanic of the company to help 
me to escape. This mechanic showed me the greatest 
sympathy, even in accommodating me in his own lodgings. 
Here I have to record a fact which, though not bearing 
directly upon my terrible experiences, deserves mention. 
On the morning of the 8th the workshops of the company 
received an order from a plot engineer of the company for 
the quick delivery of thirty troughs. An order for troughs 
at a time when the bodies of victims were lying close by, 
so recently shot that they had not become rigid, and while 
the children of the workmen were starving ! The head 
office had issued instructions that on the 9th work was to 
be resumed at the workshops and oil fields of the company. 
On the 9th the whistles were blown, but the workmen, of 
course, did not turn up. . . . That morning I was escorted 
to the station by three soldiers. What I saw on the way 
there is indescribable. In order to fully comprehend the 
magnitude of the tragedy, to imagine it in all its horrible 
colouring, one must have been a resident of Balakhani, 
know Balakhani and its people, and then see everything 
as I saw it. At the station I was told by our Russian 
carpenters that the Lezghins had fired my quarters, after 
removing all they could lay hands on." 



CHAPTER XVIII. 
ZABRAT, WHERE THE BRITISH WERE BESIEGED. 

THE DIARY OF MR. ROLAND WALLIS — NAMES OF THE BRITISH 

TARTARS ASK FOR BREAD AND DEMAND THAT ARMENIANS SHALL 

BE GIVEN UP ESCORT OFFERED — MANTASCHEFF'S ZABRAT 

BARRACKS RUSHED BY TARTARS — STABLEMAN CARRIES AN APPEAL 

FOR HELP TO BAKU ARAMAZD's DERRICKS FIRED — LEZGHIN 

WATCHMAN SHOT " LIT UP AS IN BROAD DAYLIGHT " — 

PITOIEV'S WORKS SACKED AND DESTROYED — TARTAR WATCHMEN 
PROTECT ARMENIANS — EIGHT ARMENIANS SHOT AND MUTILATED 

— HOW A KAZAN TARTAR SAVED TWO ARMENIAN WOMEN 

EARTHQUAKE SHOCK — MR. LESLIE URQUHART'S RIDE — "A BRAVE 
DEED BRAVELY DONE" LETTER FROM AN ARMENIAN. 

It vi^as on the Zabrat property of the Baku-Russian 
Petroleum Company that a small band of Britishers w^ere 
besieged during the week of the massacres. I am under 
obligation to Mr. Roland Wallis for courteously complying 
with my request that he should write an account of what 
took place. He has sent me his impressions in the form 

of a diary. 

* * * * 

September 2nd {Saturday). — I left town by the 5.18 p.m. 
train to spend a quiet week-end at Mashtagi, but only 
heard on arrival at the Baku-Russian Petroleum Company's 
Zabrat Worl's that the Tartar-Armenian feud had actually 
started again — this time in the centre of the town, and only 
about a quarter of an hour before I had left. I, therefore, 
decided to stay on with Willans and await developments. 
There were then seven British in Balakhani — Willans, 
MacCallum, Marryat, Murtagh, Caird, Chambers, and 

R. o 



194 BAKU. 

myself— representing each constituent part of the United 
Kingdom. 

September ph {Monday). — The news from town was that 
firing and fighting still continued, so I decided to stay on 
with Willans. Shortly after nine we heard firing from 
Aramazd, and as the shooting was becoming general, 
Willans telephoned to Chambers and Caird (his assistants) 
to come up to him. We then tried to get in a reserve 
supply of drinking water, but without success, so it was 
decided to put the horses on other water. Several 
Armenians left us ; the workshops, however, continued 
working until the break for lunch, but work was not after- 
wards resumed. Shortly after midday the first fire started, 
and in a very short time I saw eight distinct fires, but as a 
strong wind was blowing we were very soon entirely 
enveloped in thick smoke. We had a small fire in the 
yard : it was started by the flying sparks, and was soon 
extinguished. The telephone was working hard, but 
always the same story : a fire started near such and such a 
plot and anyone attempting to extinguish it was at once 
fired upon. Later in the afternoon telephonic communica- 
tion, even in Balakhani, was interrupted, and we were cut 
off from all outside news. 

September sth (Tuesday). — During the night the wind 
veered right round, and during the whole of the day we 
had the Baku-renowned "Nord," with its accompanying 
dust storm. Owing to the varying and strong winds of 
Monday and Tuesday, the flames spread with marvellous 
rapidity. Early in the morning, Chambers and Caird left 
and endeavoured to get to their plot. We afterwards 
learned that they could neither get there, nor get back 
again, but they managed to get safely into town. Then 
the Tartar labourers came and wanted us to guarantee 



ZABRAT. 195 

them a supply of bread. We naturally could not do this, 
so they left us in a body. This had a disquieting effect. 
We were then about 3CX), mostly Russian, with about a 
dozen Armenians and half-a-dozen Lezghin watchmen 
(Mahomedans). About 11 o'clock several fully-armed 
Tartars (from the adjoining houses) came in and demanded 
that we should give up the Armenians. We replied that 
there were none with us, whereupon they searched the 
whole house. They offered to escort us to Zabrat village, 
or Mashtagi, but Willans refused to leave. They then 
assured us we were perfectly safe as long as we did not 
harbour any Armenians. That was where the rub came 
and where our position was made so very precarious. 
Early in the afternoon, after heavy firing for probably an 
hour, we saw MantaschefTs Zabrat barracks rushed. These 
were about three-quarters of a mile off, but we could 
distinctly hear the shouts of the stormers. The place was 
immediately sacked and set on fire. An hour later we saw 
a workman (apparently a Russian, but it afterwards trans- 
pired he was an Armenian), dashing across the plain 
towards us. He got within 150 yards, when, evidently 
seeing himself covered by the weapons of some Tartars, he 
suddenly turned and made towards Aramazd, when the 
Tartars immediately fired on him. After lying down for a 
short while he got up and went straight for the Tartar 
house, when the Armenians fired. It was clearly a case of 
the man who hesitates being lost, as, fired on from different 
quarters, he soon fell, mortally wounded, but lingered on 
until night, when the dusk permitted the unfortunate man 
being put out of his misery. 

September 6th ( Wednesday). — One of the stablemen was 
found willing to take a letter into town and started off first 
thing. This morning our Russian workmen, going with 

2 



196 BAKU. 

pails to secure drinking water from outlying wells, were 
fired upon by the Armenians and forced to return, but 
otherwise the morning passed without incident. In the 
afternoon Aramazd's derricks were seen to be burning. As 
the wind had dropped considerably and was then blowing 
away from their quarters, it is probable the workmen on the 
property fired the derricks themselves in self-defence. 
Shortly afterwards some dozen men advanced, firing in 
correct " Red Book " style. They were making a bee-line 
for us, their object probably being to gain the protection of 
our walls preparatory to making a final rush for safety to 
Mantascheffs. They advanced about half the distance to 
our works and then retired. It was at this time that one 
of our Lezghin watchmen, showing his head over the wall, 
was shot through the forehead. As darkness fell our 
messenger, a Kazan Tartar (Mahomedan), returned, but 
in only his shirt, and bearing an empty envelope addressed 
to Willans in Mr. Urquhart's handwriting. We, therefore, 
knew our message had been delivered, but this did not 
afford us much consolation, as the man said that matters 
were far worse in town. 

September yth {Thursday). — To-day the climax was 
reached. Our provisions were exhausted; we had an egg 
each for breakfast, but I must admit that we had no appetite 
for more. Early in the morning Aramazd's quarters were seen 
to be in flames, but nothing could be seen of the men, who 
had probably got away during the night to Mantascheff's, 
although this move must have been attended with great 
difficulty as when the smoke cleared from the blazing 
ambars and reservoirs, the whole place was lit up as in 
broad daylight. Very soon the whole plain in front of us 
was alive with Tartars, and the cross-firing from Pitoiev's 
made it inadvisable to remain a spectator. When the firing 



ZABRAT. 197 

stopped, we saw that Pitoiev's works were being sacked 
and blazing. Shortly afterwards fifty Cossacks appeared 
in the near distance, but almost directly moved off towards 
Zabrat. Most of the Tartars had begun to retire, but 
about 100 men from outlying villages, totally unknown to 
us, and most apparently fanatically excited, surrounded 
our works. They broke open a small Armenian liquor 
shop and invited our Russian workmen to help themselves. 
(The Mahomedan religion forbids them to drink spirit 
and liquors.) They set the shop on fire and immediately 
afterwards took possession of our yard. After a heated 
altercation with the watchmen (Mahomedans), who swore 
by their faith there were no Armenians in our quarters, 
they gave up the attempt to enter our rooms, and proceeded 
to search the rest of the buildings. Eight Armenians (five 
of whom were clerks of the company) were found and 
these were immediately shot down by those possessing 
revolvers, and, in most cases, were afterwards slashed several 
times across the chest by those who carried kinjals. It was 
terrible to have to be a passive witness of such inhuman 
slaughter, but there was absolutely nothing to be done, as 
witness the fact that at least over 300 fully-armed 
Armenians were at Mantascheffs, within a few hundred 
yards of us. This butchery over, there was a terrible row 
with the watchmen, who had maintained from the first day 
that there were no Armenians in our yard. High words 
were used, but eventually, to our intense relief, the Tartars 
moved off. It appeared that there was a special desire to 
get one of the clerks and he had not been found ; in fact, 
of those who remained, he was one of three who escaped, 
while nine others, outsiders, remained undiscovered and 
were afterwards escorted across to Mantascheff's. I must 
here mention an act of great bravery performed by the 



198 BAKU. 

head coachman, a Kazan Tartar, who dressed two 
Armenian women up as his wives. All those in the yard 
guessed where the women were, and it would have meant 
instant death had his ruse been seen through. Scarcely 
had we realised that the worst was over than we were 
seriously threatened by fire from the neighbouring Tartar 
houses, which were now all ablaze, having caught fire from 
the Armenian liquor shop. We then noticed that a white 
flag was flying from Mantascheff's works. About 300 
infantry, with a gun, had at length arrived, and from that 
moment not a shot was fired nor a Tartar seen. This must 
have been about 2 p.m. The Armenians were disarmed 
and escorted into town. We applied to the commanding 
officer for soldiers. He refused to divide his troop, but 
proposed that we should join him at Mantascheff''s, the 
only Armenian concern in Balakhani that had escaped 
destruction. However, during the afternoon we secured a 
certain quantity of bread, obtained several additional 
watchmen, and, having lit up, there appeared to be a 
restoration of confidence amongst those remaining. A 
good many had gone off" to the station with their goods 
and chattels. I may here mention that we had been 
husbanding our fuel, having only sufficient for one-and-a-half 
night's lighting, and on the previous nights we had managed 
with kerosene lamps and candles. 

Sepietnber 8th {Friday). — We were awakened about 5 
a.m. by a fairly severe shock of earthquake. An hour later 
Mr. Urquhart arrived from Mashtagi, quickly followed by 
water and provisions. After some discussion, it was decided 
to send those Russian workmen who wished to go on to 
Schibaieff" refinery, in White Town, where everything was 
quiet, and that we should get into town somehow. How- 
ever, owing to the selfish action of some of the workmen, 



ZABRAT. 199 

and the attitude assumed by the watchmen, who miscon- 
strued our decision as distrust of them, neither Mr. 
Urquhart nor Mr. Willans dare risk leaving, so we decided 
to stay on till the next day. Only MacCallum left on 
Friday, and Urquhart, Willans and myself drove in on 
Saturday morning. Willans, however, returned to the 
field next morning. Along the road scarcely a soul 
was to be seen ; here and there we saw frightened faces at 
the windows of houses which had escaped destruction, but 
so dense was the smoke that nothing could be seen beyond 
fifty yards on either side. The ruins were still smoulder- 
ing. It is easy enough to be wise after the event, but the 
most terrible part of those five days was the suspense and 
not knowing what was really going on elsewhere. The 
workmen's wives and women servants were the greatest 
trial, as, not content with being thoroughly frightened 
themselves, they found employment in starting and circula- 
ting most blood-curdling rumours until many actually 
believed them to be true. The most troublesome part was 
with the workmen on Thursday afternoon and Friday. 
The strain and tension on one's nerves having been 
removed, and after having saved the company's property 
by pluckily sticking to his post, Willans had to fulfil the by 
no means easy task of playing heavy father to the workmen^ 
who brought forward most childish demands, and did not 
appear to know their own minds two minutes together. 
As an instance,! may mention that there were several cases of 
families removing with all their belongings and bringing 
them back again twice on Thursday and twice again on 
Friday. 

As one of those relieved by Mr. Urquhart, I do not 
think that in justice to him I can close this account 
without referring to his ride from Baku to Zabrat. The 



200 BAKU. 

papers, in their desire to get copy, have absurdly overdone 
the whole incident. Some papers speak of our having had 
to fight our way through armed crowds, and as it has also 
been stated that Mr. Urquhart arrived at Zabrat when all 
was over I feel that these conflicting statements may pos- 
sibly place him in a ridiculous position and lead to a mis- 
representation of the facts in England. Mr. Urquhart left 
Baku on Thursday on receipt of a letter which we wrote 
in the excitement of the moment. He started with two 
Cossacks, and a Russian, whose wife was in one of the 
outlying villages, joined him. He had absolutely no idea 
what he might be going to, or what he might have to go 
through before he reached the place of our captivity. 
Making a wide circuit to approach Zabrat from the west 
and avoid passing right through the burning oil fields he 
unfortunately rode right into bodies of retiring Tartars, 
and several times his little party were covered by rifles. 
That is why he was unable to get into Zabrat before 
night. I have since seen his companion, who avers that he 
would never in his life repeat that ride, not even for a 
hundred wives. That he got through unscathed was mainly 
due, he told me, to Mr. Urquhart's thorough command of 
their language, and, to a great extent, also owing to his 
possessing such an exceptional knowledge of life in the 
Caucasus, whereby he has acquired the air, if not the 
authority, of a chieftain in his intercourse with the people. 
I am immensely pleased to have this opportunity of placing 
it on record — and I am now writing on behalf of myself and 
my companions — that it was a brave deed bravely done. 
* * » * 

Mr. Wallis, in his graphic description of the experiences 
of the British, gives some facts which contradict a grave and 
widely circulated accusation that some of our countrymen 



ZABRAT. 20I 

refused or neglected to protect Armenian employes, 
and actually delivered some of these up to their foes. Mr. 
Willans, the oil field manager of the Baku-Russian Com- 
pany, has written on the same subject, and contradicted 
some of the mis-statements about what took place on the 
property at Zabrat. The plot manager of the property (an 
Englishman) and the other employes, Mr. Willans 
emphatically points out, did everything possible, and 
some things which seemed impossible, to save the lives 
of those Armenians who sought refuge on the plot. They 
succeeded in saving the lives of a few Armenians ; these 
they hid, and risked their own lives by not giving them 
up. It was true that about eight Armenians were found 
by Tartars and massacred, " but," writes Mr. Willans, 
"there was no human possibility of saving them, for 
you must remember that we had no protection, and were 
without help from the outside." Continuing, he says, " I 
find it necessary to add that a shot fired from the Aramazd 
plot killed a Tartar, who had refused to give up one of the 
Armenians hidden on our property. At a time like the 
present when passions are so excited, one ought to be care- 
ful in the quotation and publication of statements, and 
should be most careful in the employment of words. 
Impartial readers will understand how very unfair are the 
ironical comments concerning the ' gentlemanly English- 
man.' Our consciences are clear ; we did all we could to 
save innocent lives." 

# * * * 

The charges against British managers were published in 
Baku (Armenian). A convincing letter of explanation and 
denial, written by an Armenian in the employ of the 
European Petroleum Company and sent to that paper, 
was rejected. This fact having been brought to the notice 



202 BAKU. 

of Mr. H. Pike Pease, M.P., the chairman, I have been asked 
to give space in this book to the unpublished letter. It 
reads — unaltered and just as I have received it : — 

"Dear Sir, — In the paper issued by you of the 30th August, you 
report that the cause of the destruction of the Armenians employed 
on the property of the European Petroleum Company by the evil 
doers was that this company did not assume adequate means for 
their protection and that also the cause of their destruction were the 
Lezghin watchmen. As the author of these reports has not any 
de facto proofs, and as he did not ascertain the truth of the said 
occurrences of which he had been informed, but based these reports 
on false rumours and allowed himself to publish them, I, in order to 
clear up the truth and re-establish the honour of our firm and kind 
chiefs, kindly request you to insert the following letter in one of your 
nearest numbers : — 

" On the 23rd August (Tuesday), early in the morning, the Manager 
of the European Petroleum Company, Mr. Fienbarg, having been 
informed of the approaching danger of the Armenian employes on 
the properties trusted to his care, immediately left town, and on his 
arrival on the properties immediately collected all these Armenians 
who were scattered about the various plots into the office, from where 
he hid them in the manager's house, which was considered the safest 
place of all the other houses. Then Mr. Fienbarg sent one of his 
employes to the Naphtha Producers (Sovet Siedz), where a great 
number of Armenians were collected, asking them whether they 
would be agreeable to receive us, and having received their consent, 
proposed to us that we Armenians should go over to the Sovet Siez, 
which was situated not very far from the house where we were 
hidden, under the escort of our watchmen and accompanied by him- 
self, promising these watchmen a very big gratuity for the escort. 
Notwithstanding his insistent requests and supplications we would 
not leave the house lest we might be murdered en route by the 
various bands of Tartars. Thus Mr. Fienbarg from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. 
was with us imploring and insisting us to go with him to the building 
of the Sovet Siezd, warning us that here in this house we might be 
destroyed, as several times bands of Tartars came around this plot 
searching in all the quarters and looking for us, but, to our great 
misfortune, we would not listen to him and stopped in the manager's 
house, 

" Not having the power to induce us, Mr. Fienbarg, again before 
leaving the property, entreated and begged of us, almost with tears in 





HINDKRIjS of JjIFFKF-'KNT PH'-.TO- Ol TH1-- <-. H-i.F '-.i-. "n.l' -^i'.^V,- HO-,'.' COMPLETE 
WAS THE WORK Oh L/E\'ASTATION IN AI,J, FAKTb OF THESE GREAT OIE ElELDb. 
E\ERVWHKkE \\RECKEIJ DERRICKS, WORKSHOPS AND OFFKES. 



[To face page 202, 



ZABRAT. 203 

his eyes, to make one effort and go over with him to the Sovet Siezd, 
but even then this time his supplications were all in vain. 

"Some time after Mr. Fienbarg had left the property we were 
surrounded by a band of about thirty Tartars who broke into the 
house. Our watchmen, owing to their small number, were not in a 
position to defend us. At this moment the servant of the Balakhani 
manager threw me into a trap hole and hid me there. After this the 
Tartars broke into the house, killed four of us, and wounded one. 

" 1 was saved owing to the administration of the properties, who at 
night brought me out of this trap hole and for two days fed me and 
hid me in various places. Finally on the 26th August the manage- 
ment of the properties was able at last to receive an escort of Cossacks, 
by the help of whom, I, the wife of the assistant machinist, with two 
children, and a lad, the son of our Armenian porter, were escorted to 
the police station, from where we safely came into town, and thus we 
five persons, owing to the efforts and measures assumed by Mr. 
Fienbarg and the administration of the European Petroleum Company, 
saved us, and I take this opportunity of expressing, in the name of 
those who have been saved and in my own, our heartfelt thanks. 

" Head Clerk on the Property of the European Petroleum 
Company, Ltd. 

" (Signed) Sitrack Ter-Astvazatouroff." 

At a meeting of the shareholders of the European 
Petroleum Company, held in London after the massacres, 
Mr. H. Pike Pease, M.P., the chairman, said, "Several 
members of our staff, and including Mr. Fienbarg, Mr. 
A. J. Parker's assistant, and Messrs. Schwartz and Mani- 
kovitch, at the risk of their lives, while men were being 
murdered on all hands, gallantly defended and protected 
our properties," while the shareholders showed their 
approval of this statement by passing the following resolu- 
tion : " That the best thanks of this meeting be accorded to 
Mr. Fienbarg, assistant manager, and Messrs. Schwartz 
and Manikovitch, and the other employes of the company 
at Baku, for the valuable services rendered by them at per- 
sonal risk towards the protection of the company's property 
during the recent disturbances at Baku." 



CHAPTER XIX. 
BIBI-EIBAT. 

OFFICIAL REPORT OF THE MASSACRES — ARMENIANS FIRE ON A 
COSSACK CAMP — WAR WITH BOMBS — ANGLO-RUSSIAN PROPERTIES 
FIRED — ARMENIANS DRESSED AS SOLDIERS — MR. REAY, A TYNE- 
SIDER, IN THE THICK OF IT — WARSAW AND BAKU — A REMARK- 
ABLE PROCLAMATION — ORDER TO FIRE WITHOUT WARNING — " IF 
THEY STAY WE SHALL KILL THEM" — FLIGHT OF ARMENIANS 
FROM THE VALLEY — MR. MANCHO'S BRAVE ACT — FRENCH MANAGER 
ASSASSINATED — THREE ARMENIANS AND THREE COSSACKS — LIVES 
SAVED BY A TIP — TELEPHONE AT WORK — THE BOY ARMENIAN'S 
REVENGE — SEA ROBBERS — A STEAM LAUNCH AND A SCHOONER 
LAND ARMED TARTARS. 

(TRANSLATED FROM THE RUSSIAN.) 

Report of the Chief of the Baku District to the Governor- 
General on Events at Bibi-Eibat between the 3rd and 
1 2th September. 

September 3rd. — Between nine and ten o'clock in the 
evening some shooting near the Pitoiev property caused a 
feeling of uneasiness amongst the population of Bibi-Eibat. 
At that time the Armenians in the barracks of the Tiflis 
Company fired at a Cossack camp on the sea shore. By 
order of their chief the Cossacks replied with volleys. 
After this crowds of Armenians from the Pitoiev and 
Mirzoiev works were seen moving towards the Afanasiev 
barracks, where shots were also fired at the troops. 
The district inspector, having been informed by wire of 
what had taken place, ordered an immediate search of 
both houses. The troops found two rifles with ninety 



BIBI-EIBAT. 20S 

cartridges, three revolvers with two hundred cartridges, two 
daggers, and three tins of smokeless powder. The 
Armenians in the Tiflis Company's barracks were 
arrested. 

September ^th. — At midday shooting started at many 
parts of Bibi-Eibat, and a drilling master at the Gefest 
Works was killed close to the plot of the Caspian Com- 
pany. According to statements made by Armenians 
engaged on the property of the Shikhovo Company, this 
murder was committed by Tartars, who escaped. Shoot- 
ing, they said, took place between the Armenians at the 
Shikhovo and Caspian Companies' oil fields and the Tartars. 
A superintendent of police, with twenty-five Cossacks, pro- 
ceeded to the spot and quickly restored order. Two Tartars 
pointed out by the Armenians were arrested. At four 
o'clock in the afternoon two murders were committed ; one 
victim was a boiler master employed by the Schibaieff 
Petroleum Company, and the other a workman from the 
Russian Naphtha Company. 

September 5th. — At the request of the district inspector 
the Cossack detachment at Bibi-Eibat was strengthened 
bj' a squad of marines. This detachment was drawn up 
on the Mantascheff Square, near the workmen's barracks^ 
in order to prevent a conflict between Tartars and 
Armenians, while the Cossacks were entrusted with the 
patrolling of the whole of the northern part of Bibi-Eibat. 
In the southern part of the region the structures of the 
Bibi-Eibat water conduit were fired, and Engineer Timoni, 
the manager, was killed and his body thrown into the 
flames. About midnight two wells on the Soiuz (Union) 
property, a derrick on the Baku-Russian Petroleum Com- 
pany's property, and four derricks on the Mantascheff" pro- 
perty were fired. From these the flames were carried by 



2o6 BAKU. 

the wind to the property of the Bibi-Eibat Petroleum Com- 
pany, of London, where the electric station and two 
Zubaloff and an equal number of the Caspian and Black 
Sea derricks were consumed. The Khatissov works 
were fired, and two Armenians were murdered, one being 
the manager of the Khatissov works, who was discovered 
in a cellar on the Nobel property. 

September 6th. — The fires continued and shots were 
heard in every part of the region. On this day, two 
Tartars and some Russian workmen reported to the 
superintendent of police that Armenians from the Milov 
and Tairov barracks, dressed as soldiers, were firing on 
Mahomedans — a report which caused the greatest ex- 
citement amongst the Mahomedan workmen employed 
by the Russian Petroleum and Liquid Fuel Company, of 
London. This was confirmed by Mr. Reay,* oil field 
manager, of the Russian Fuel Company. The superin- 
tendent of police, when he arrived with thirty Cossacks, 
stopped the shooting, and on searching the Milov and 
Tairov barracks, where Armenians were said to be dis- 
guised as soldiers, found two bombs and some rifles, re- 
volvers, and daggers. In the evening, the chief of the 

• Mr. Reay (at one time an engineer at Newcastle-on-Tyne) has 
publicly corrected a mis-statement regarding the Russian Petroleum 
and Liquid Fuel Company, of which he is the plot manager at Bibi- 
Eibat. He emphatically denies that the watchmen on his property 
disembowelled anyone ; there was, he says, no search for Armenians 
on the property, and no Armenians were delivered up. All the 
Armenian workmen on his property were alive and unhurt. Baku, 
correcting the mistake, says the incident took place at the Balakhani 
property of the Baku-Russian Petroleum Company and not at Bibi- 
Eibat, but my readers will remember that on a previous page Mr. 
Willans, the manager of the last-named Company, has denied the 
charge made against some of the British of having delivered Armenians 
up to Tartars. 



BIBI-EIBAT. 20; 

rural police, with fifteen Cossacks, went round the oil 
fields. Visiting the Mukhtarov workmen, and securing 
from them a promise to abstain from fighting with the 
Armenians, he returned to the Cossack barracks. It was 
then that firing started at the Naftalan and Kalantarov 
barracks. The superintendent, with fifty Cossacks and a 
naval detachment, rode direct to the spot, while the chief 
made a detour in order to come upon the men unawares. 
Near the water shed, the troops were fired at, and they 
replied with five volleys, scattering the rioters in al- 
directions. 

September ph. — The fires continued. About midday, 
while one of the fires was raging most furiously, a naval 
officer, who arrived at Bibi-Eibat with a detachment, re- 
ported to the superintendent that the higher authorities 
had instructed him to remove the naval detachment from 
Mantascheff Square to a point nearer Bailov. He handed 
a note to that effect to the officer in charge of the detach 
ment. The superintendent of police asked the officer to 
take away any of the Mantascheff Armenians who desired 
to leave the barracks. This was done. The naval de- 
tachment delivered at the Bailov police station a bomb 
believed to have been thrown by the Armenians. 

September 8th. — In the morning the superintendent 
made a round of Bibi-Eibat for the purpose of seeing that 
the abandoned properties were not pillaged, and pacifying 
those who remained. At the Kalantarov property the 
Cossacks found two bombs in one of the fireplaces of a 
dwelling. On his return to the station, the superintendent 
met an officer of gendarmes, in whose presence a Russian 
boy made a declaration that four bombs were hidden at 
the Milov and Tairov barracks. The superintendent and 
the officer, with a Cossack escort, proceeded to the barracks. 



208 BAKU. 

where they found the bombs near the offices of the Milov 
and Tairov Companies. Other bombs were discovered. 
Throughout the day the fires continued, but on a smaller 
scale. 

September gth. — Fires gradually abated. The super- 
intendent, while on his morning round, arrested on the 
Zubaloff property sixteen Persian subjects, who were 
stealing the oil field inventory. 

September loth and nth. — No fresh outbreaks of fire; 
everything in flames up to the 7th was burning itself out. 

September 12th. — Early in the morning (four o'clock) the 
Mukhtarov works were searched, but nothing incriminating 
was found, excepting three rifles, three revolvers, three 
daggers, and a few cartridges. The day passed quietly. 
In the night a fountain began to play on the Zubaloff' 
property. The oil falling in showers on piles of smoulder- 
ing timber started another fire. 

It, % * * 

When the Governor of Warsaw issued his notorious 
proclamation ordering the troops to fire on rioters, there 
was a great outcry in this country, and not a little was 
written in denunciation of the language in which the order 
to shoot was couched. I publish, for the first time in English, 
a similar proclamation applying to Bibi-Eibat, and issued 
by Colonel Walter, of the Saliansk Infantry Reserves, and 
Commander of the Military Garrison at Baku. It was 
issued on September 4th, and read : — 

"I command that, in strict conformity with the in- 
structions of the Governor-General, a detachment of 
marines numbering not less than fifty shall continuously 
patrol Bibi-Eibat. I order the commanders of detach- 
ments of troops to carry out strictly the instructions of 



BIBI-EIBAT. 209 

the Governor-General, that in the event of shots behig 
fired from any house the troops are to reply immediately 
with shots aimed at the windows or balcony from which 
the shots may be fired, and to arrest those who have been 
shooting. In the event, however, of the person who has 
been shooting having hidden, and the landlord refusing to 
give him up, the landlord is to be arrested. If a mob 
collects with the intention of creating disorders, fire without 
warning ; inform me immediately whenever a crowd col- 
lects, so that I may at once send on artillery. I express 
my regret that on the occasion when the Third Detach- 
ment of the Labinsk Regiment, the barracks of the 
Daghestan Regiment, and the battery yard were fired at 
yesterday by the rioters, artillery fire was not opened 
against the aggressors." 

4) * * * 

When the disorders started in the city, the Mussulmans 
at Bibi-Eibat held a meeting, at which they decided that 
not a single Armenian should be allowed to remain at the 
oil field. " If they stay we shall kill them," they told the 
managers. On the 4th a drilling-master and a workman 
of the Caspian Company, both Armenians, were murdered 
on the main road, and preparations for a massacre of 
Armenians were openly made. News of the struggle 
which had started in the city was received with yells of 
delight. Meanwhile, tlie managers appealed by telephone 
for military protection, only to learn tliat no soldiers could 
be sent, as there were not sufficient for the protection of 
the city, Balakhani, and Saboonchi. The terror-stricken 
Armenians started to clear out of Bibi-Eibat, and fled 
to Bailov, the hill which overlooks tlie derrick-studded 
vallej-. 

The flight of Ar ;ienians from the valley of Bibi-Eibat 



2IO BAKU. 

was a terrible spectacle. Vehicles of every description, 
light phaetons and lumbering oil field carts, filled with 
women and children and dragged by terrified horses, 
crowded up the hill. Men and women staggered along 
beneath heavy loads, and children ran crying at their 
sides. At the top of the hill the crowds from Bibi-Eibat 
joined those who were preparing to fly from Bailov. They 
had to face the full fury of a northerly gale, and clouds 
of driving and blinding sand added to the terrors of the 
flight. 

An eye-witness says : " What I saw on that fearful night 
reminded me of descriptions I have read of the flight of 
ancients attacked by barbarians." While the Armenians 
were moving in large bodies they were not attacked by 
the Tartars, but a bullet was always ready for any unfor- 
tunate Armenian who became separated from the crowd. 

Mr. Mancho, oil field manager of the Bibi-Eibat Petro- 
leum Company and well known in London oil circles, 
took an Armenian student from Bibi-Eibat to the city — 
an act of bravery. At Khatissov Works, the manager, a 
Frenchman, who looked like an Armenian, was compelled 
to leave his burning quarters. He was stabbed to death 
in the street. 

When the Armenian workmen had fled from the 
Khatissov Works, a mechanic remained in the barracks. 
Some of those who reached the city informed the police 
of his position of peril, and appealed for help, which was 
not sent. His brother, with an escort of friendly Lezghins, 
went to his assistance. He was found alive and taken 
down to the shore, but when he got into a small boat 
near the Nobel property he was shot dead by some 
Tartars. 




DEAD ARMENIANS. 



[ To face page 2iO, 



BIBI-EIBAT. 211 

On the Zoubalov property three Armenians, a drilling 
master, a clerk, and one of the workmen, were left behind. 
Three Cossacks arrived. 

" Take them to the city, and here is a tip for you. If 
you return with a letter that you have delivered them 
safely, I will give you more," the manager said. 

The Cossacks kept their promise, saw the men to a 
place of safety, and returned to the manager for the 
promised tip. Asked to remain for the night and assist 
to beat off any Tartars who might attack them or attempt 
to set fire to the property, they replied that they could 
not do so, as they had not slept for thirty-six hours. 

The manager of this property, Mr. P. I. Yarkel, was 
threatened by Tartars for not delivering up all his 
Armenian workmen. He had to beat off several Tartars 
who rushed at him with knives. Asking for protection 
by telephone, he received the usual reply, " No military 
available." 

" But we shall all be murdered," he replied. 

" Well, we may perhaps send." 

This property was fired on the night of the sth. 
* * * * 

The Tartars set fire to the waterworks, cut off the 
water supply, and made it impossible for the military to 
do anything to subdue the flames. It was noticed that 
the fire, which started near the foreshore, on the properties 
of the Russian Oil Company, Mantascheff, and Baku- 
Russian Petroleum Company, drove northwards against 
the gale, showing that one plot after another was fired 
by incendiaries working from south to north. Besides, 
most of the Bibi-Eibat wells were covered with gypsolite 
and could only be fired from inside the derrick. The 
incendiaries, carrying lights, could be seen dashing in 

P 2 



212 BAKU. 

and out amongst the derricks of the Caspian Company. 
The chief sufferers were the Armenian firms, including 
Mantascheff, Russian Naphtha Company, Tiflis Company, 
Milov-Tairov Aramazd Company, Goubalov, Khatissov, 
and many others. The Russian Petroleum and Liquid 
Fuel Company and the Schibaieff Petroleum Company, 
both Anglo-Russian, and Nobel, suffered less damage. 
More than 300 derricks, including 100 at producing wells, 
were destroyed, while about yj wells, many of which were 
abandoned, remained. While the fires blazed there was a 
great deal of pillaging. 

"V 'F ^ ^ 

Some gruesome stories are told of the struggle at this 
oil field. One tragedy, in which a boy of thirteen was the 
chief actor, took place at the gate of the Mantascheff 
plot on the 4th. He was an Armenian, and had seen 
his father shot down in the morning. He hid himself just 
inside the entrance, and when three Tartars dashed up, he 
shot two dead and wounded the third. He was seen to 
do this by other Tartars, who ran him to earth in a ditch 
and killed him. 

Lezghin watchmen, instead of protecting the properties 
of their employers, took part in the plundering. What 
the Armenians could not remove — such things as large 
mirrors, sideboards, crockery, harmoniums, pianos, and 
tables — these men joined the Tartars in destroying. Pigs, 
an abomination to the Mahomedans, were butchered in 
a most fiendish manner, but cows and horses were taken 
away. 

On the night of the 6th a steam launch, crowded with 
Tartars, appeared off the Zoubalov property. This was 
an organised descent; there were mysterious signals at 
sea, answering lights were waved at the oil fields, and 



BIBI-EIBAT. 



213 



when the launch approached the shore, her lights were 
out. An armed detachment landed in naval fashion. 
Assisted by Lezghins and Tartars, these men pillaged the 
Zoubalov property, and removed everything of value to 
the launch, which, heavily laden, steamed out to sea 
again. 

Many vessels came into the bay and landed armed 
gangs of thieves and murderers. The authorities expected 
that the Black Town refinery region would be attacked 
from the sea. It was known that hundreds of Tartars 
were aboard small vessels which hid behind Holy Island 
in the day time and came into the bay after dark. The 
coastguards were on the alert, and on the 15th, at ten 
o'clock at night, they saw a schooner without lights pass 
the landing stages of the Schibaieff, Mantascheff, and 
Electric Power Companies. They hailed the mysterious 
craft, but received no reply. They then opened fire on 
her, but she kept on her way up to the Tagiev landing 
stage. The coastguards did not follow her, but on the 
following morning an officer and ten soldiers proceeded 
to the Tagiev Works, where they discovered hundreds 
of armed Tartars. When they arrived the crew of the 
schooner were making frantic efforts to haul her away 
from the landing stage, and hoist sail to run out to sea. 
The officer signalled to her to stop, and she was brought 
back to the landing stage. Directly she came alongside 
a number of Tartars jumped ashore, and made off in 
different directions. There was a great deal of ammu- 
nition on board, and a Tartar, the only one arrested, said 
the cargo of rifles had been thrown into the sea. On 
account of the smallness of his escort, and the threatening 
attitude of the Tartars, the officer did not search the 
works. He was told that a Persian had been killed and 



214 BAKU. 

another wounded when his men fired at the vessel on the 
previous night. 

No British subject lost his life in these massacres, but 
some oil men of other nationalities were killed. Shots, 
however, were fired at the offices of Anglo-Russian oil 
companies, and the artillery planted a shell in a room 
occupied by an Englishman. As soon as possible after 
the affair started, the members of the British Colony went 
on board the tank steamer Paddy, which took them out 
to sea beyond the reach of the guns. 

The curtain may now be let down on this Caucasian 
tragedy. The tribes played rival roles with bloody zeal ; 
they did this right up to the end of September, a month 
which will never be forgotten by those who lived through 
it in this most unfortunate arena of Tartar-Armenian 
strife. 



BIBI-EIBAT. 



215 



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I'EAi K PROCK-^SIO^:. MX THK I.CFT A MULLAH; IN 1 H li CENTI- 
KI'.I'RESLKTATR'KS DK 'J' H !■: AKMI'.NIAKS. 



L/,,><,/<,AV Zl^ 



PART HI. 

BATOUM, BAKU'S CHIEF OIL PORT. 



CHAPTER XX. 

BATOUM : ITS PIPE LINES, SHIPPING, AND PETROLEUM 
EXPORTS. 

THE world's greatest OIL PORT — ITS DISAPPEARING TRADE 

SEVEN years' EXPORTS — OIL LOADING ARRANGEMENTS — NOVO- 
ROSSISK EXPORTS — EARLY DAYS OF THE TANK STEAMER — PRINCI- 
PLES OF CONSTRUCTION — THE SEPARATE TANK SYSTEM A FAILURE 

DUAL CARGOES THE PIONEER TANKER " FADERLAND " BUILT 

AT JARROW-ON-TYNE — TANK STEAMERS ON THE CASPIAN — THE 
FIRST TRANSATLANTIC OIL-CARRIER BUILT IN ENGLAND — THE 
GERMAN-OWNED " GLUCKAUF " — FIRST CARGO OF BULK OIL 

DELIVERED IN ENGLAND — ILL-FATED " BAKUIN " THE SUNDER- 

LAND-BUILT STEAMER " CHIGWELL " OIL-CARRIERS OF THE 

EIGHTIES COMPARED WITH THE LEVIATHANS OF TO-DAY — THE 
GROWTH OF THE FLEETS. 

Batoum is the greatest oil port in the world. It is many 
years since it outdistanced Poti, which, after spending a 
million pounds sterling on its harbour works, competed 
with it for the position of premier petroleum port and for 
the honour of being known in the shipping world as the 
Odessa of the Caucasian side of the Black Sea. Novo- 
rossisk has also been beaten by Batoum, but is still an oil 
port of considerable importance. Although the Caucasian 
Mountains separate them, Baku, the Caspian oil port, and 
Bat\ urn, the sister port on the Black Sea, are linked 
togf ther by six hundred miles of pipe line, just completed 
ana through which the oil for the foreign markets will be 
pumped before the end of the year. 

Batoum is the creation of Baku, and it has for nearly 
half a century been fed and fostered by the oil which has 



220 



BAKU. 



been sent to it across the Caucasus. These two places 
have played an important part in the history of the marine 
branch of the petroleum industry, but at the present 
moment it is only too clear that one (and I, of course, refer 
to Batoum), if not both, must suffer serious damage as the 
result of racial and political risings in the Caucasus and 
interminable labour troubles at the trading centres. The 
case oil trade is already disappearing from Batoum — going 
to Alexandria and other Mediterranean ports — and there 
will be no need for the average number of ocean-going bulk 
oil-carriers to visit the port during the next twelve months. 
Some remarkable figures show the magnitude of the oil 
business at Batoum. During the past seven years the 
exports of oil were : — 



Year. 


Poods. 


Tons. 


1899 


71,302,300 


1,148,433 


1900 


65,377,000 


1,054,477 


igoi 


77,519,700 


1,350,317 


1903 


84,334,000 


1,358,613 


1903 


83,211,500 


1,335,976 


1904 


79,526,900 


1,282,692 


1905* 


33,666,803 


381,723 


1904* 


40,501,547 


653,251 


First six months. 







Batoum Harbour is used by the vessels of the Russian 
Steam Navigation Company, the tramp steamers of all 
maritime nations, and a large number of tank steamers 
which run regularly in the Russian oil trade. Although it 
possesses great natural advantages and its construction has 
involved an expenditure of vast sums of money, the 
ordinary mooring accommodation is inadequate, and what 
is known as the petroleum breakwater does not offer 
sufficient protection for tank steamers when the sea is 
running high, and there is a swell in the bay. In rough 



BATOUM. 221 

weather steamers have either to anchor in the roadstead or 
steam out into the open sea. Reconstruction projects 
have been prepared, but not adopted, and the port 
authorities, considering that the revenue does not justify 
the reconstruction of the harbour, are at work on improve- 
ment schemes which will involve an expenditure of many 
million roubles. 

Kerosene-carrying tankers have loading accommodation 
inside the breakwater. The pipe lines from all the oil 
pumping stations are led on to this breakwater, where 
they terminate in four separate racks, at which four vessels 
can be loaded simultaneously. At the barrel and case 
quay, also inside the petroleum breakwater, six vessels can 
be loaded at one time. No other vessels secure such quick 
despatches as those which carry oil in bulk. 

In 1903, 241 steam tankers loaded 642,194 tons of other 
products, while 157 vessels took 29,516 tons in barrels, 
246,000 tons in cases, and 43,355 tons in tins. In 1903, 
5,226 vessels entered the harbour ; some 700 of these were 
steamers, and 2,000 sailing vessels from abroad, while those 
in the coastwise trade numbered 723 steamers and 1,763 
sailers. 

The oil exports from the neighbouring port of Novo- 
rossisk during the past six years were : — 



Year. 


Poods. 


Tons. 


190I 


15.039-900 


243,579 


1902 


10,453,000 


168,597 


1903 


38,687,300 


463,697 


1904 


37,060,300 


436,456 


1905* 


8,466,000 


135.548 


1904* 


13,035,930 


193,966 


First six months. 







I am not aware that there is a complete record of the 
oil-carrying fleets of the world— certainly not a record 



222 BAKU. 

which gives the names, tonnage, etc., of those steamers and 
sailers which fly the flags of Russia, America, England, 
Holland, Germany, and other shipowning nations. The 
vessels which carry oil make a magnificent fleet both in 
number and carrying capacity. With the rapid increase of 
spheres of activity, both in the production and consumption 
of oil, the shipping part of the business has become one of 
considerable importance, financially and nautically. In its 
inception, steady development, great efficiency to-day, and 
striking adaptability to the peculiar requirements of the 
industry it is acknowledged to be one of the greatest 
successes of the world's mercantile marine. Per ton the 
tanker costs a great deal more than the ordinary tramp. 
Having a more expensive and complicated equipment, its 
upkeep is greater than that of the ordinary general cargo- 
carrier, and this demands the display of engineering and 
scientific knowledge quite unique amongst specialist work 
in the art of shipbuilding. 

. It is not generally known that the system employed for 
twenty years in the carriage of petroleum and its products 
has been actually in use for centuries. The system of 
carrying large quantities of liquids in bulk has been 
employed in connection with wine and water for a great 
many years. In Northern Italian ports the method of 
carrying wine in bulk is adopted in the case of the small 
coasters. The wine, carried against the outer skin, with 
nothing intervening, is discharged by small hand pumps 
into barrels or pitchers on the quay. The buoyancy of 
these small vessels is preserved by fitting wine-tight wooden 
bulkheads at the two ends. On the west coast of South 
America, where there is very little rain, and fresh water is 
most precious, it has long been a custom to carry water in 
steamers and store it in old sailing hulks. 



BATOUM. 223 

When the petroleum trade increased to such an extent that 
it was becoming difficult to handle the great quantities in 
barrels, it occurred to a progressive oil merchant to adopt the 
above idea for the carriage of oil. In this way the modern 
tanker was born. But it was necessary to employ the feeder 
principle used when carrying grain in bulk, because, on 
the long voyages of the tankers, provision had to be 
made for any leakage and evaporation that might occur and 
also for the contraction and expansion due to the high 
co-efficient of expansion. That these early principles were 
correct the present state of the bulk oil trade fully proves. 

Before the advent of the bulk oil carrier a large trade 
had grown up in the carriage of petroleum, first in barrels 
and afterwards in rectangular tin cases. The cases were 
considered superior to the barrels, because they fitted close 
to one another, and a greater quantity of oil could be 
carried in a given space, while the cases were also found to 
facilitate the marketing of the oil as two cases could be 
slung on the back of a strong animal or two tins on a 
weaker one. This obviated the necessity of breaking 
into packages, as had to be done in the case of barrelled oil. 
It was soon found, however, that, even with the greatest 
perfection of workmanship, leakage on a large scale took 
place. This meant not only a considerable loss of oil, but 
a serious danger to the ship, for the evaporated oil filled 
the holds with explosive gases, with the result that on 
several occasions there were disastrous explosions and 
fires. In order to avoid this risk and save expense the 
suggestion was made that the vessels themselves should 
have tanks into and out of which the oil could be pumped. 
The shipowners started with the idea that there must be 
separate containing tanks, but this principle was soon 
abandoned, With every possible care there was always 



224 BAKU. 

leakage, and the oil which escaped evaporated, filling 
the spaces beneath and between the tanks and the 
sides of the ship with explosive gases. It was found 
impossible to properly clean these spaces, or to repair the 
tanks. No naked light could be used, and, of course, the 
insertion of hot rivets was out of the question. The 
separate tank system was not only more risky than carriage 
by means of cases and barrels, but it was also far more 
expensive. In the process of evolution the next develop- 
ment was to utilise the vessel herself as the tank containing 
oil, partitioning off a portion at both ends to secure 
buoyancy, give room for engines, quarters for the crew, and 
space for the pumping machinery. The 'tween-decks were 
arranged with trunks to allow for the expansion of the oil, 
and the remaining portion was used as coal bunkers and for 
storage. With this system it was found there was practically 
no loss of oil. So many improvements have been made 
in the construction and fitting of the various joints, and the 
shipbuilders now understand and do their work so well, 
that leakage is scarcely possible. All tankers are now 
constructed in this way. 

The next problem was the building of steamers to carry 
oil in one direction and general cargo in the other. This 
was accomplished by means of artificial ventilation, by 
perfectly cleaning the holds, and by removing every trace 
of the oil. Powerful fans keep up a continuous circulation 
of air through the holds. Steamers now carry oil from 
Batoum to the East, and bring back the most delicate pro- 
ducts of Eastern manufacture, foods like rice, and even tea. 

The building of the first tank steamer was not considered 
to be a great event, or indeed an event of any importance 
whatever, in the shipbuilding trade. Before this tanker 
came a wooden sailer with a commonplace and not 





CENH? AT TM--'."-',. 7HH '>!T. T OT.J ■:■]■ THE CAUCAS^.^. : N 7 >: }" ■:}.?. TF.E :> 
BRITISH TANK i-TEAMZR LOADING OIL AT THt PETKOLEUM MC>LE. 



[ 7'i> _/iiV /il;5't' 224. 



BATOUM, 225 

very nautical name — Charles. She had fifty-nine separate 
tanks, carried 794 tons, and, starting in 1869 to run with 
crude oil between America and Europe, she did splendid 
pioneering work until 1872. In these years there 
were several wooden sailers running with bulk oil to 
Antwerp and Havre. The start ^of the steam tanker was 
something of a mystery. Messrs. Palmer and Company of 
that year (1872), but now the world-known and famous 
Palmer Shipbuilding and Iron Company, of Jarrow-on- 
Tyne, built the Faderland (2,748 tons), which was followed 
\>y ^t Nederland z.x\A the Switzerland \ix 1873 and 1874. 
Exactly what these steamers did in the oil trade — if indeed 
they did anything at all — I have been unable to find out, 
and I ought to add that they are not believed to have been 
the vessels which really solved the problem of carrying oil 
in bulk. 

Some five years later Mr. Ludwig Nobel, founder of the 
famous petroleum firm at Baku, had two steam tankers — 
the Sviet and Ludwig Nobel — built by the Motalo Com- 
pany at Gothenburg, Sweden. They were 286 ft. in length 
and steamed eleven knots, and the Sviet brought one of 
her first cargoes from Batoum to London. The firm of 
Nobel had other vessels built at this Swedish shipyard, 
the Blesk, in 1890, being one. Some of these were trans- 
ported in sections through canals in the interior of Russia 
and down the Volga to near where the river joins the 
Caspian, where they were put together and proceeded to 
Baku. They loaded kerosene in bulk, and were the 
successful pioneer steamers of the great fleet of Caspian 
Sea oil carriers which exists to-day. The Ludwig Nobel 
ran for many years in the Baltic oil trade, making regular 
trips between St. Petersburg and Finland. 

The first tank steamer to run in the Atlantic oil trade 
B. Q 



226 BAKU. 

was the Fergusons, built in 1885 by Messrs. Craggs and 
Sons, of Middlesbrough, and converted into a tanker by 
Messrs. Bertram Haswell and Company, Sunderland, in 
1880, when she became the property of Messrs. Lennard 
and Sons. The tanks were built up in the hold. She was 
destroyed by an explosion while lying in the Seine. 

The Atlantic was also crossed by the Gluckauf (German- 
owned), which carried 2,600 tons of refined from New York 
to Bremen. She was built by Messrs. Armstrong, Mitchell 
and Company, Newcastle, from the designs of Mr. H. F. 
Swan, who has taken such a deep interest in the construc- 
tion of some of the largest tankers of recent times. 

The first cargo of oil discharged in England by a tank 
steamer was for Messrs. Lane and Macandrew, of Great 
St. Helens, while the second cargo was brought by the 
converted tanker Petriana from Batoum.* This vessel 
started to discharge 2,000 tons at Liverpool on December 
I ith, 1 880. A few weeks before this cargo reached England 
the Marquis Scicluna (afterwards the A Hand) arrived at 
Fiume, in Austria, with a cargo of kerosene. Among the 
first of the Fox tankers were the Chigwell, the Charles 
Howard (renamed the Mineral), and the Titian, all " con- 
verted " vessels. 

The Bakuin, built at Hartlepool by Messrs. W. Gray 
and Company for Mr. Alfred Suart in 1886, was the first 
tank steamer turned out of a British shipyard. On her 
first voyage, when she was commanded by Captain Kort- 
right (who was afterwards killed by an explosion on the 
Petriana), she discharged a cargo of lubricating oil at 
Hamburg. At that time (1886) this vessel was considered 
to be an advance on all oil-carrying steamers of the con- 
verted type. Respecting her it was said — "Great care 
* Particulars are given in a later chapter. 



BATOUM. 227 

appears to have been taken in the construction of the 
Bakuin to avoid all possible sources of risk from fire. She 
is lighted by electricity, the cabins are heated by steam 
instead of by coal fires, and the cooking is done by steam." 
The Bakuin was destroyed by fire when she was in the 
floating dock at Callao Bay, Peru. She was running at 
the time on a charter with the London and Pacific Oil 
Company, of Talara. 

A few weeks after the Petriana started to run in the oil 
trade the Chigwell, another converted tanker, commenced 
to carry oil between Batoum and Fiume. Among the first 
vessels built by Messrs. R. Thompson and Sons, of Sunder- 
land, in 1889, for the bulk oil trade was the Wild/lower, 
lost with all hands (Captain Stanwell in command) after 
leaving Philadelphia. The Hafis, built by Messrs. Haw- 
thorn, Leslie and Company, Hebburn-on-Tyne, in 1886, 
was another successful tanker of that day. Later in 1887 
the Era (now the Apscheron) was built by the Palmer 
Company from designs prepared by Sir E. J. Reed, an 
eminent naval architect. Like the Oka (now the Broad- 
mayne), built by the same company about fifteen months 
afterwards, she was looked upon as a most perfect specimen 
of her type. The Broadmayne, often sent across the 
Atlantic, is 334 ft. long, 40 ft. beam, and i6'9 ft. deep. 
She carries about 3,000 tons of oil. At that time it was 
said of the Broadmayne that it was doubtful if she could be 
upset, something that could not be said of all the early 
tank steamers. The Oka was larger than the Era. Of the 
Era, Oka, and Chariots (built by Messrs. Russell . and 
Company, Greenock) it was said that they fully solved the 
problem of carrying oil in bulk. The Rocklight (built at 
Southampton in 1888 for Messrs. Lane and Macandrew, 
and now owned by the Shell Transport and Trading 

Q 2 



228 BAKU. 

Company) and the Tankerville (built by Messrs. Craig, 
Taylor and Company, Stockton, for Mr. Suart in 1889) 
were frequently in the American and Black Sea trades. 
One of the first tank steamers built for Mr. Alfred Suart 
cleared herself after making two voyages, the freight at 
that time being 35J. 6d. a ton against a third that figure to- 
day. The Robert Dickinson, now running as a Shell liner, 
was converted by Leslie and Company for Mr. Suart in 
1887, in which year there were some twenty-five or thirty 
tankers afloat. 

The oil-carriers of the eighties were in tonnage only one- 
third the size of some of the leviathan tankers launched 
during the past two years. Nearly all the essential 
knowledge required for the safety and quick and profitable 
working of the trade was gathered during the first three 
years, 1886 to 1889, by those in charge of tankers. Since 
1890 there has been very little alteration in the form of the 
vessels, with the exception of the placing of the engines 
amidships, which has been adopted in the case of the 
Caucasian (1899), and in still larger steamers like the 
Narragansett a.nd Tuscarora, but not by the Shell Company 
in the case of specially built vessels. 

It says very much for the unceasing watchfulness of 
those in charge of the early tankers that so few accidents 
occurred. The officers were dealing with quite a new form 
of cargo, which required as great, if not greater, care than 
gunpowder. With their lack of experience they did not 
know how far the explosive vapours would carry. In the 
case of several converted ships nautical electric arrange- 
ments were so imperfect, or the engineers understood so 
little about them, that for the first two or three years they 
had no electric lights on board. 



BATOUM. 229 

In 1880 there were only eight oil-carrying steamers and 
sailing ships, four of each, and these were only employed 
in local trades. About the year 1887 some fourteen 
steamers and two sailing ships were built, and several of 
these were afterwards employed in the Transatlantic trade. 
In 1888 eighteen steamers were built with a gross carrying 
capacity of 42,047 tons, while a single sailing ship, with a 
gross tonnage of 1,254, was launched. 1893 was a great 
shipbuilding year in this trade, no less than thirty tankers, 
with a gross tonnage of 94,568, being launched. That was 
the year in which the Shell Transport and Trading Com- 
pany built the BuUmouth (Gray and Company), Trocas 
(James Laing), Elax (Gray and Company), and several 
others. It was in this year that the Anglo-American Oil 
Company's successful tanker Potomac was converted by 
Messrs. A. and J. Inglis, Glasgow. For the same company 
Messrs. Dunlop and Company, Port Glasgow, launched the 
Lackawanna in the same year, while two years later they 
turned out the well-known Atlantic trader Chesapeake, 
now owned by the Anglo-American Oil Company. 

In 1898 there were some 150 steamers and fourteen 
sailing vessels carrying oil. Only one of each was regis- 
tered at New York, while seventy steamers and two 
sailing vessels were registered at British ports. Hamburg 
and Rotterdam had ten each, while Astrakhan and Baku 
had twelve each. At that time Newcastle-on-Tyne had 
constructed seventy-seven of the total of 121 oil-carrying 
steamers turned out by British shipyards. Sunderland 
came next with ten, while the Clyde, now a foremost 
tanker-building river, followed with eight. 

Few persons outside Russia know anything about the 
Caspian Sea oil carriers, although some of these are owned 
by British companies. 



230 BAKU. 

In addition to a large fleet of sailers, about i6o in 
number, with a carrying capacity of about 1,000,000 cubic 
feet, there are 140 steamers engaged in the business of 
carrying oil in bulk. These steamers have a carrying 
capacity of about 5,500,000 cubic feet. The following 
table shows the growth of the fleet of steam tankers on the 
Caspian Sea since 1892 : — 



1893 
1894 

1895 
1896 
1897 
1898 
1899 
1900 
190 1 
1903 

1903 
1904 

Some of the vessels make as many as sixty trips to the 
Volga in a good year. There is a movement at present to 
induce the authorities to deepen the waterway from the 
fourteen-foot roadstead up to Astrakhan. If this is done 
tankers will proceed direct to Astrakhan, and it will not 
be necessary for the oil to be discharged into barges. 

If we include Caspian tankers — and some of these are 
large, full-powered vessels not unlike the /. M. Guffey, 
Colonel Drake (which this year has made a new and novel 
record by towing a Standard oil barge across the Atlantic 
to this country), and other tankers running in the Texas 
oil trade — there must be 500 steamers carrying oil in all 
parts of the world. In the Far East there are numerous 
small steam tankers owned by the Shell and Royal Dutch 
Companies. Then there are the sailers — many of them 



No. of Steamers. 


Total cap. cub. ft. 


58 


1,720,825 


59 


i>758,463 


66 


1,992,947 


87 


2,728,217 


92 


3,942,327 


93 


2,998,447 


112 


3,804,746 


rz9 


4,616,702 


134 


4,884,692 


126 


4,690,312 


126 


4>753.658 


127 


4-917,259 


134 


5,338,094 




OIL TANK ^rtAMEHS ON T H t 



t7>/;,<v/.,^,-.5 



BATOUM. 231 

full rigged ships — and numerous small coasters and large 
sea-going barges of the type used by the Standard Oil 
Company to take oil away from ports in the Gulf of 
Mexico. Indisputably, however, the largest number of 
the world's tankers, likewise the tankers of the largest ton- 
nage, fly the Union Jack ; in number there are nearly 1 50. 
Every year sees larger vessels added to the list, and such 
splendid oil carriers as the Caucasian, Oriflamme, and 
Rossija, the Anglo-American Tuscerora and Narragansett 
the Shell Bulysses, Pinna, Cardium, Pectan, Goldmouth 
and Silverlip, the small fleet of the Pure Oil Company, 
the Prince and Moss liners, and many others have been 
placed in the bulk oil-carrying trade. 

There are some twenty firms which own tankers, without 
counting numerous Russian owners, the J. M. Guffey 
Petroleum Company, the Standard Oil Company, the 
company which placed the " North " fleet of converted 
tankers in the Texas trade, and many others, including 
several on the Pacific coast. Connected with the well 
known Prince line, which frequently sends liners to New 
York and Batoum, there are some four or five tankers, one 
of which, the Circassian Prince, is coasting with oil on the 
Pacific. Some companies in Europe with Standard 
connections run their own tankers, and some of the Dutch 
concerns, notably the Royal Dutch, employ oil carriers in 
the Far East trade. The Burmah Oil Company (Glasgow 
and London) has a fleet of splendid tankers. In the 
sailing section there are many fast and beautifully modelled 
vessels, including the four-masted sister ships Brilliant and 
Daylight. These crack sailers have tank arrangements 
which enable them when they have discharged oil to 
take in water ballast. This facilitates discharging, and 
accounts for their exceptional stability when light. 



CHAPTER XXI. 

THE GROWTH OF THE EUROPEAN-BATOUM OIL TRADE, 

Nearly a quarter of a century ago, oil men in London 
closely followed developments in the Caucasus. Some 
hoped that one day Russian oil would be placed on the 
European markets, and as soon as the Baku-Batoum line 
was finished (1883) the question of importing the petroleum 
products of Baku was discussed over here. At that time 
Europe was served exclusively by American oil shipped 
across the Atlantic in oak barrels. As Russia did not 
possess the quality of wood necessary for the manufacture 
of barrels capable of safely transporting lamp oil, it became 
necessary to invent other means of transporting the oil 
from Batoum to the various markets of Europe. 

About that time, Messrs. Lane and Macandrew were 
invited by the directors of the Fiume refineries, who had 
become interested in the Baku production, to study this 
matter. The result of a close study of the question in all 
its phases was that they considered it practicable to adopt 
the system of ocean transport which was found to work 
satisfactorily on the Caspian Sea. They recommended 
that the oil should be transported in bulk in large steamers 
running from Batoum to the various European markets. 

After a great deal of labour and much opposition, 
especially on the part of Lloyds Registry, they persuaded 
certain English shipowners (among the first being Mr. 
Alfred Suart) to convert or construct steamers specially 
adapted for the ocean transport of petroleum in bulk. It 



GROWTH OF OIL TRADE. 233 

was in this way that shipowners and oil men came to 
realise the possibility of placing the production of the Baku 
fields upon the European markets. 

The development of the new method of ocean transport 
marked a step forward in the petroleum trade of the world ; 
it resulted in the starting of those organisations by means 
of which the producers themselves transport from the point 
of production and deliver to the actual consumer in the 
smallest possible quantities in all the countries of Europe 
and the Far East. The lead given by Russia encouraged 
the Americans to adopt the same methods. 

The first cargo shipped in this manner from Russia was 
arranged for in June, 1887, by Messrs. Lane and Mac- 
andrew ; as already stated, it came to London in the 
Petrolia, belonging to Messrs. Nobel Brothers. 

Other firms on the Continent quickly followed, amongst 
the leading ones being Messrs. Oehlrick, of Hamburg, 
Messrs. Spath & Co., of Antwerp, Messrs. Crockerwitt & 
Co., of Amsterdam, Messrs. Weddekind & Co., of Palermo, 
Messrs. Librach and Cantor, of Vienna, Messrs. Nobel 
Brothers, in Germany, and Messrs. A. Andr6 Fils, of Paris, 
for most of whom Messrs. Lane and Macandrew made 
contracts for the supply of the necessary tank steamers. 
From that time on, Russian lamp oil quickly established 
itself on the European markets. 

The Americans at that time had a monopoly of the 
markets in other parts of the world ; but in 1886, Messrs. 
Lane and Macandrew, having made arrangements with the 
company controlled by Messrs. Rothschild, of Paris, 
namely La Society Commerciale et Industrielle de Naphte 
Caspienne et de la Mer Noire, undertook to place 
Russian oil upon the Eastern markets, and eventually 
succeeded in selling the first cargo to one of the largest 



234 BAKU. 

houses in the Eastern trade (Messrs. Wallace Brothers) in 
the month of November, 1886, after which Messrs. Lane 
and Macandrew, in conjunction with Messrs. Wallace 
Brothers and the Soci6t6 Caspienne, gradually extended 
the development of the export trade of Russian oil to the 
East, until in 1893 the export of Russian case oil to the 
countries of the Far East reached a quantity of about 
io,ooo,cxx) cases. 

The business established in the United Kingdom by 
Messrs. Lane and Macandrew by the importation of the 
cargo of the Petrolia in 1887 gradually led to the forma- 
tion of the Kerosene Company, with which they worked in 
conjunction with Messrs. Wallace Brothers. The trade in 
Russian oil rapidly increased ; in 1886 the import was only 
46,814 barrels, in 1887 this rose to 188,461 barrels, and in 
1888, the year of the constitution of the Kerosene 
Company, it reached 549,126 barrels. 

Soon after the completion of the railway between Baku 
and Batoum, the establishment of the lubricating export 
trade of Russia was undertciken by Mr. August Andr6, of 
Paris, Mr. Charles Good, of Antwerp, and Dr. Albrecht, of 
Hamburg, who, from the commencement, have been the 
leading houses for the sale and distribution of Russian lubri- 
cating oil, and who have developed this business to such 
an extent that to-day the Russian lubricating oil trade 
amounts to something like 50 per cent, of the entire trade 
of Europe. 

In 1891, Messrs. Marcus Samuel and Company conceived 
the idea of extending the bulk system of transport 
from Russia to the countries of the Far East. For the 
purpose of supporting an organisation having this object 
in view, Messrs. Lane and Macandrew negotiated a 
contract between this firm and the Rothschild company, 



GROWTH OF OIL TRADE. 235 

La Society Commerciale et Industrielle de Naphte 
Caspienne et de la Mer Noire, guaranteeing the necessary 
supply of oil, and it was in this way that the further 
development of the export of Russian oil to the East by 
the introduction of the bulk system was commenced and 
established. In 1891 the export of Russian oil in bulk to 
the countries in the Far East, in addition to that exported 
in cases, amounted to 9,ooo,cxx) cases. 

The leading Russian oil distributing companies doing 
business in this country are the Consolidated Petroleum 
Company, Ltd., Rood Lane, and the Homelight Oil 
Company, Ltd., St. Mary Axe. 

Last year (1904) the exports of Russian refined in bulk 
to the British Isles were: — From Batoum, 13,304,835 
poods, and from Novorossisk, 5,456,087 poods, against 
12,404,076 and 8,690,203 respectively in 1903. 

For the first six months of the present year (1905) the 
exports of refined in bulk to the British Isles were : — 
From Batoum, 2,455,334 poods, and from Novorossisk, 
2,604,272 poods against 8,093,655 and 3,217,487 poods in 
the same period of 1904. 



236 BAKU. 

EXPORT RULES AND CUSTOMS. 

At all the Continental and British markets oil is only 
quoted in barrels. The only exceptions are Hamburg 
and Bremen, at which prices for bulk oil are also quoted. 
Prices are quoted : — 

In England in pence per gallon. 

In Germany in marks per 50 kg. 

In France, Belgium, Spain, in francs per 100 kg. 

In Italy in lire per 100 kg. 

In Austria in Austrian guldens per 100 kg. 

To find the equivalents of these in copecks per pood 
multiply — 

English prices by I7"25 ( 5^ by I7"25=94'875 cop. per pood 
German „ 15-18 ( 6-25 „ i5-i8=:94-87S „ „ „ 
Belgian,&c. „ 6-15 (iS-40„ 6-i4=947 „ „ „ 
Dutch „ i2-8i ( 7'40„ I2'8i=94794 „ „ „ 

Austrian „ i5'37 ( 6-15 „ iS-37=94-S2S „ „ „ 

The Baku refiner, however, is only concerned about the 
f.o.b. Batoum and the respective fo.r. Baku equivalent for 
oil in bulk. Therefore, in trying to work out the Baku 
equivalent of the foreign quotations in copecks per pood, 
he has to deduct 

(a) The cost of transport to Batoum (19 copecks per 

pood) and port and landing charges (about 3 copecks 
per pood), and 

(b) The cost of transport, insurance and leakage from 

Batoum to the port of destination. 

Freight is always quoted in shillings per ton on the 
gross weight, each shilling per ton, at an average rate of 
exchange of 940 copecks per pound, working out at 07577 



GROWTH OF OIL TRADE. 237 

copeck per pood. There are generally three prices 
quoted for bulk shipments from Batoum. The highest 
is to English and German Ocean ports, the cheaper rate to 
French ports, and the cheapest one to Italian and French 
Mediterranean ports. 

Marine insurance generally amounts to ^ per cent, of 
the value of the cargo, while the loss by leakage is usually 
estimated at i per cent. 

(c) Local charges and expenses at the ports of 

destination. 

Where quotations are understood for barrelled oil these 
consist of — landing and storage ; fastening of hoops, 
glueing, painting, iilling and closing of barrel; loss in weight 
owing to extra rebate on the tare (according to local 
usage) ; commission, discount for cash, and interest on 
capital. 

These items roughly constitute about 11 copecks per 
pood. 

In quotations referring to bulk oil some of these charges 
are avoided, and the expense roughly amounts to 5 copecks 
per pood. 

(d) The cost of empty barrels. 

This is nowhere quoted. It is generally calculated at 
4J. 6d. to 5J., or, say, from 24 to 25 J copecks per pood. 

(e) The difference in price between American and 

Russian oil. 
In absence of competition between Russian shippers, 
the London difference mounts up to 2 copecks per pood. 
At the other markets it is higher. In presence of 
keen competition, the difference has frequently exceeded 
10 copecks. 



238 BAKU. 

THE CASE OIL TRADE AT BATOUM. 

The sale of case oil is generally undertaken by Batoum 
exporters with delivery on board the buyer's steamer or 
sailing vessel (f.o.b. Batoum), Prices for shipments to the 
Far East are in pence per gallon and to Mediterranean 
and Danube ports in francs and centimes per case. While 
the sales for cargoes to the Far East are exclusively 
effected in London, those for the Mediterranean are 
arranged in Batoum, Constantinople, and other ports. 
The London price (in pence) is always understood to be 
for cash against delivery of bill of lading to the bank in- 
dicated by the buyer, or about ten days after the departure 
of the steamer from Batoum, or from the date the bill of 
lading was made out. Conditions of payment in connection 
with Mediterranean sales vary (cash against documents or at 
the expiration of a fixed period), but payment is generally 
also made through a bank indicated by the buyer. The 
London broker charges the seller i per cent, commission. 

In reducing the Batoum price to Baku price the seller 
has to consider the following items : — 

(a) A case contains i'8 poods of kerosene. The leakage 

on the way from Baku to Batoum amounts to ^j^ per 
cent., and from the railway to shipboard to i per 
cent., making a total of 1*3 per cent, or o'oi3 pood 
per pood forwarded from Baku. Therefore each 
case requires— 1-8 (o'Oi3.l"8) = i"8234 poods, or, 
roughly, 1*83 poods of oil. 

(b) Broker's commission, i per cent. 

(c) Broker's rate, about 30 copecks per ;^ 10. 

(d) Cost of packing and delivery on board, roughly, 
65 copecks per pood. 

(e) Railway rate to Batoum on i"83 poods at 19 copecks 

per pood = 3477 per case. 



GROWTH OF OIL TRADE. 239 

(f) Interest at 7 per cent, per annum paid for railway 

transport, assuming two months elapse between the 
arrival of the oil at Batoum and the receipt of cash 
for the cargo, 0*25 copecks per pood. 

(g) Port charge at Batoum, i copeck per pood, or 

on 2j poods (case included), 2-25 copecks per 

pood. 
Assuming, therefore, a price of 50 pence per case, and 
;^io being equal to 94 roubles 15 copecks, we find the 
Baku price would work out as follows : — 

(a) Deducting i per cent, broker's com- 

mission from 50 pence leaves 49*5 pence. 

(b) Deducting 0*30 copecks, the banker's 

charge on ;£'io works out at 3 '91 

copecks per penny, and, therefore, ""cise.^"^ 

49-5 pence = i93'S4S 

Deduct from above — 

(c) Cost of packing and loading charges, 

including delivery and storage, cop. 
roughly about ... ... ... 6^-oo 

(d) Freight to Batoum at 19 copecks 

per pood on i'83 poods = ... 3477 

(e) 7 per cent, interest per annum on 

freight for two months = ... 0*25 

(f) Port charge at Batoum at i copeck 

per pood on 2 J poods 2-25 102-27 



Clearing for 1-83 pood = 9i'27S 

or 49'87 copecks per pood f.o.r. Baku 



NOTWITHSTANDING THE INCREASE OF FIRE-RESISTING AND FIRE-EXTINGUISHING 
APPLIANCES AND THE EMPLOYMENT OF STEAM, CHEMICALS AND SAND, FIRE 
CONTINUES TO BE THE MUCH DREADED FOE OF THE OIL WELL DRILLER IN 
ALL PARTS OF THE WORLD. THE BELCHING FORTH OF THESE FOUNTAINS 
OF LIQUID FIRE — THE TERRIBLE ROAR OF ESCAPING GAS, THE SHORT, SHARP 
REPORTS, THE FIERCE FLASHES OF BLINDING LIGHT, AND THE THICK CLOUDS 
OF SMOKE WHICH ROLL UPWARDS, FOLD UPON FOLD, AND SHUT OUT THE 
SKY— IS A THRILLING AND APPALLING SPECTACLE. A SPOUTER BURSTS FORTH 
TOO QUICKLY FOR THE WORKMEN TO EXTINGUISH THE SURROUNDING FUR- 
NACES, A SINGLE SPARK, OR A CARELESS ACT, SAY, THE DROPPING OF A 
LIGHT, AND THE OIL-SOAKED GROUND, RESERVOIRS, TANKS, DERRICKS AND 
BUILDINGS ARE IN A BLAZE IN A MOMENT. IN THE HISTORY OF THE PETRO- 
LEUM INDUSTRY THERE ARE NUMEROUS THRILLING STORIES OF OIL FIELD 
FIRES; THE MOST APPALLING THE WORLD HAS EVER KNOWN, OR PROBABLY 
EVER WILL KNOW, ARE DESCRIBED IN THIS BOOK. 





[ To /ace Page 240. 



APPENDIX. 



TRANSPORT OF BAKU OIL. 

TRANSCAUCASIAN TARIFFS. 

The following table shows the fluctuations in the rates 
charged by the Transcaucasian Railway for the carriage of 
oil:— 



From beginning of 1894 to March ist ... 

March and, 1894, to July ist 

July 1st, 1894, to May 15th, 1895 

May 15th, 1895, to July ist 

July ist, 1895, to December 3rd, 1897 ... 
December 3rd, 1897, to January 15th, igoo 

January 15th, 1900, to April, 1904 

From 1904 



Copecks 
per pood. 

.. 19 

•• 14 

•■ 9 

.. 14 

.. 19 

.. 12 

.. 16 

.. 19 



Stability of tariffs on this line, the chief outlet for Russian 
oil sent to foreign markets, has been frequently urged by 
producers, and by none more warmly than the Hon. Evelyn 
Hubbard (representing the Russian Petroleum and Liquid 
Fuel Company and the Baku Russian Petroleum Company), 
who had an interview with M. Witte at the time when he was 
the Minister of Finance. Russian exporters recently appealed 
to the Ministry of Finance for a substantial reduction in the 
rates to enable them to compete with American oil. A 
conference at St. Petersburg resulted in the rejection of 
recommendations submitted by Nobels, Gukassov, Pappe, 
Skalkovski (Rothschild), and other leading producers. It is 
now thought that the Russian Government will reconsider 
these recommendations in the light of recent deplorable 
events. 

B. R 



242 APPENDIX. 

Russian oil has lost ground in the foreign markets ; this will 
have to be recovered, and success will only be possible if the 
Government decides on a substantial reduction of the rates. 
The unreliability of the tariff arrangement is seriously handi- 
capping the Russian export trade. 

To what extent the working of the Transcaucasian is being 
influenced by events at Baku will be seen from the following 
returns. In the first six months of the present year the 
takings amounted to ;^i, 180,700, the total expenditure to 
;^725,5oo, and the net revenue to £^^^,200, as compared 
with £"1,645,500 income, £'777,800 expenditure, and £"867,700 
net revenue for the corresponding period of last year. 



RAILWAY TRANSPORT TO INLAND MARKETS. 

The Minister of Finance has been petitioned by repre- 
sentatives of the industrial regions of Central Russia to reduce 
the railway freights from Baku and Petrovsk from the ^ copeck 
per pood and verst to the differential tariff of -^ copeck per 
pood and verst now charged for coal. This would reduce the 
freight from Moscow to nineteen copecks and from Petrovsk 
to sixteen copecks. The present rate, both from Baku and 
Petrovsk, to Moscow is absolutely prohibitive. The oil tariffs 
are calculated in the following manner. The rate starting at 
-^ copeck per pood and verst gradually decreases on a 532 
mile run to the minimum rate of ^ copeck per pood and verst, 
and no further differentiation is made. The object aimed at 
is to place the centres of coal and liquid fuel consumption on 
an equal footing in the matter of cost of transport. At present, 
however, owing to the exceptionally high prices for liquid fuel, 
the Moscow and Volga regions have been placed in positions 
which render competition with the coal-consuming centres 
impossible. When the Volga navigation closes the only route 
available to Moscow or the Volga centres will be by rail either 
from the ice-free port of Petrovsk or direct from Baku by rail. 
At the existing minimum tariff for petroleum (yV copeck), and 
assuming that the astatki price at Baku will only be twenty 



APPENDIX. 



243 



copecks per pood, a pood of liquid fuel delivered at Moscow 
will cost fifty-five copecks, a figure the industry could not pay 
for any length of time. The petition proposes to reduce the 
tariffs to a rate which will render it possible to deliver liquid 
fuel at Moscow and the adjacent industrial centres at a reason- 
able figure. Below is a comparison of the distances and 
tariffs for petroleum products and coal : — 









Petroleum Tariffs. 






Distance 


Distance 


From Baku. 






in 


in 


In oops, per pood. 
Actual. Proposed, 


Coal 


[ IFrom 


versts. 


miles. 


Tariff. 


Tzaritzin ... 


1.563 


(1.036) 


3373 I4"93 


13-90 


Saratov 


2,297 


(1.533) 


33-21 ig-oi 


18-78 


Nizhni 


3,782 


(1,844) 


40-14 22-66 


22-66 


Moscow 


2,386 


(i,68i) 


34-49 19-50 


19-49 


Vladimir ... 


3.549 


(1.689) 


36-81 20-79 


20-79 


Ivanovo 
Voznesensk 


[ 2,680 


(1,776) 


38-69 31-69 


31-84 



CASPIAN AND VOLGA NAVIGATION. 

The distance from Baku to Astrakhan by sea is about 595 
miles. The first 490 miles are easy sailing, but the final part of 
the journey is most difficult. The Volga, during the high water 
period, carries over 1,000,000 tons of sand in fifty days. This 
sand has formed a huge delta of 8,000 square miles. The 
river divides into many channels, and even the deepest of 
these have their shallows. Huge quantities of sand are carried 
towards the sea, and, as a result, the north-eastern part is 
shallow to a considerable distance beyond the estuary, and 
does not exceed 11 ft. or 12 ft. in depth. It is only possible to 
get 15 ft. of water forty-two miles from the shore. In the 
estuary, the depth of the fairway is 9 ft., but at the shallows it 
hardly exceeds 4 ft., so that the Volga and its estuary are not 
navigable for sea-going tank steamers. Navigation is greatly 
interfered with by the fierce gales which blow in the north- 
eastern part of the Caspian. The north-western gales reduce 
the depth of the water in the estuary and fairway from 10 ft. to 

R — 2 



244 APPENDIX. 

12 ft. to 2 ft. to 4 ft. At these times navigation in the estuary 
and near the shore is brought to a standstill, and vessels have 
to anchor until the wind blows from the south. These are the 
natural difficulties with which the Caspian oil fleet has to 
contend. After covering the first 495 miles, the oil tankers 
drop anchor at the 12 ft. roadstead. This roadstead is just 
over 100 miles from Astrakhan, and it is there where the 
bar divides the channel from the fairway of the Volga. The 
12 ft. roadstead has no fixed position. As the tankers draw 
from 9 ft. to 14 ft., the area used for the transhipment of oil 
into shallow draught vessels is rather extensive. Up to the 
middle of the eighties, when most of the tankers only drew 9 ft., 
the place of trans-shipment, known as the 9 ft. roadstead, was 
much nearer to Astrakhan, and is now used by general cargo 
vessels. Properly speaking, the Bakhtemir Channel of the 
Volga ends near the Island of Birutzia Kossa, about sixty miles 
from Astrakhan. Some of the tankers anchor in 15 ft. of 
water. At the roadstead the tankers coming from Baku meet 
the river craft from Astrakhan. During the day the number 
of vessels which arrive average between 70 and 100. Most 
of the firms have special boats at the roadstead, where 
their staffs are permanently stationed. Here, too, is a floating 
Custom House, telegraph office, provision store, and a small 
hospital, so that, properly spealdng, the 12 ft. roadstead is a 
floating colony. Life at the roadstead commences with the 
opening of navigation, and closes at the end of the season, when 
all stationary vessels are taken to Astrakhan. 

The arrival of a steamer is notified to the agents by a system 
of signals. Shallow draught vessels are taken alongside, and 
the oil is pumped into them. All the steamers have their own 
pumps, while the sailors make use of three pumps which are 
kept at the roadstead. A tanker is often discharged in three 
hours. From the roadstead the shallow draughts carry the oil 
to Astrakhan, where it is trans-shipped into river craft, while 
smaller quantities go into storage. The trip from the roadstead 
to Astrakhan takes from thirty-five to forty hours, and the 
return journey only nineteen hours. 

Volga navigation lasts about six months. During the last 



APPENDIX. 



245 



two years it opened later than usual ; as a matter of fact, it has 
never started so late since 1897. 



1901 
1903 
1903 
1904 
1905 



Ice breaking up 
at Nizhni. 


April loth 


9th 


8th 


,, 33nd 


20th 



River clear 
of Ice. 



April 1 6th 
» aard 
„ 14th 
„ 28th 
„ 29th 

The extent of the Volga waterways (including tributaries, 
lakes, and canals), is 29,965 miles, of which only 9,676 miles 
are navigable in both directions. The distances from Astrakhan 
to the chief distributing centres of the Volga region are : 

Miles. 
1,107 
1,119 
1.348 
1,476 

1.543 
1,656 
1.570 
1,606 

The river craft moor at about 140 wintering places, and the 
chief ones are at the centres mentioned above. 
The vessels on the Volga numbered : 





Miles. 




Tzaritzin 


... 306 


Kazan 


Kamyshin ... 


... 414 


Sviazsk .. 


Saratov 


- 551 


Nizhni .. 


Syzran 


... 750 


Kineshma 


Batraki 


... 756 


Kostroma 


Samara 


... 824 


Rybinsk .. 



Ufa, along the Volga, Kama and Bielaya rivers 
Perm, along the Volga and Kama rivers 



In 1884 
„ 1890 
„ 1895 
„ 1900 



665 steamers and 5,896 sailers. 
1,015 ,, „ 5,938 „ 

1,393 „ „ 7,000 „ 

1,718 „ „ 8,250 „ 



The latest census shows that the Caspian fleet consisted of 
five mail and passenger boats, sixty-one cargo and passenger 
boats, and twenty-three cargo boats, 134 tankers, and forty- 
five tugs and service boats. The sailers running in the oil 
trade numbered 153. The capacity of the 134 tankers was 
4,917,260 cubic ft., and that of the sailers 2,970,428 cubic ft. 

The quantities of oil forwarded up stream in the first eight 
months of this year amounted to 259,400,000 poods, as com- 
pared with 289,005,000 poods in the same period of 1904. 
* * * * 



246 APPENDIX. 

WORK RE-STARTED AT BAKU. 

Reports which are daily reaching London state that the 
work of re-building the derricks, cleaning out the wells and 
erecting drilling and pumping machinery is being pushed on 
with all possible speed. Balalthani is full of life, although, 
strangely enough, there is still only slight protection for life and 
property, the force of military being obviously inadequate, and 
hundreds of workmen are practically prisoners at the works 
where they are employed. The village, the scene of great 
slaughter in September, is deserted at nights. Contractors are 
making huge profits; they are receiving 800 roubles for a 
derrick which cost 250 roubles before the massacres. The 
majority of the new derricks are made of gypsolite. Many 
wells are being bailed. 

The stoppage of work has aggravated the water troubles, 
which cannot fail to be great during the next few months, even 
if bailing is resumed on a large scale in the shortest possible 
time. Even before the stoppage many wells were bailing four, 
and even eight, of water from the bottom to one of oil at the 
top. The methods of cementing with kir or cement have not 
given absolutely satisfactory results, and it is known that some 
of the companies wilfully neglect cementing work on their 
boundary lines, with the result that the wells of competitors are 
damaged and flooded. Wells have frequently to be abandoned 
because water from overlying layers gets into the oil beds and 
diverts the flow of oil. On an average two poods of water are 
bailed out with each pood of oil, and the removal of the water 
into the Caspian is a substantial drain on the exchequer of the 
Producers' Association. Not only does the underground water 
diminish the life and production of a well, but it considerably 
increases the cost of exploitation; the amount of mechanical 
power now required to raise a pood of oil to the surface is three 
times as great as it was when water troubles were practically nil. 
The finding of methods that can be depended upon to effectively 
shut off water is one of the chief problems of oil field mechanics. 
More perfect cementing, besides increasing the life and yield of 
the wells, also improves the chances of bringing in spouters. 



APPENDIX. 247 

At present the chances of a prolific spoutor being brought in 
tiro tliminished by (ho presence of water and tlie clustering of 
the wells at the properties, It is estimated that a well can 
drain mi area of 500 ft. to 700 ft. diameter along the strike of 
the stratum, and ,'is the distance between many wells scarcely 
amounts to 30 ft. or 50 ft., one well naturally encroaches on the 
sourcys of iinother, and results in a reduction of the yield of both 
bailed iiml spouting wells. 

The latest reports from Bibi-Eibat state that a great effort is 
being nuiclo to re-start work quickly. Though small in area it 
is the nvost remarkable oil field in the world. It has 222 wells 
out of a total of a.ooo for the Peninsulu, but although it only 
has 11 tenth of the wells it has about a third of the production. 
The last of the great spouters sU Bibi-Eibat have not been 
seen. With perhaps one exception, Balakhani, but certainly 
not at Riiinani and Bibi-Eibat, the last oil stratum has 
not been reached. Remembering the ancient character of 
Hibi-Eibat its record and position to-day are remarkable. Few 
oil men know that tlio exploitation of the resources of this field 
commenced as long ago ns the first half of the eighteenth 
century. Graolin, who visited Bibi-Eibat at the conclusion of 
the eighteenth century, mentions seventy pits. In 1819 there 
were nineteen pits, and Eichwald, who visited the region in 
1825-18^6, saw twenty-two. Of this number, two, owned by a 
certain Kassini-Bek, were in the sea — one at a distance of 63 ft. 
from the shore in ij ft. of water, and at a depth of 8 ft.; and 
the other 238 ft. to the north of the first, .ind 105 ft. from the 
shore. Dminjj; the period 1834-1849 the production of Bihi- 
ICibat wiis as ibllows: — 1834, 113,889 poods; 1835, 113,310 
pooils ; )t>jt\ 112,730 poods; 1837, 112,300 poods; 1838, 
104,835 poods; 1S31:), 121,470 poods; 1840, 114,037 poods j 
1841, 114,084 poods; 1842, 113,934 poods; 1843, 114,186 
poods; 1844, 113,966 poods; 1S45, 113,814 poods; 1846, 
1 14,130 poods; 1847,81,245 poods; 1848, 19,955 poods; ""^d 
1849, 8,300 poods. In 1900 the figure reached 109,207,063 
poods. Not only was the field producing well before the 
stoppaj^e of work owing to the massacres, but it must not be 
forgotten, as I have explained elsewhere, that the field will be 



248 APPENDIX. 

extended seawards when the reclamation scheme is carried out. 
Some of the best plots at Bibi-Eibat are owned by the Bibi- 
Eibat Petroleum Company, of London. 

The Baku oil fields are extending, beyond a doubt. There 
are reserve oil-bearing lands at Saboonchi, and it has now been 
proved that the reclamation of land at Ramani Lake was a 
successful engineering feat and a commercially prosperous 
undertaking. Near to Balakhani is Binagadi ; well clear of 
the insurrection zone is the oil field of Grosny, where a British 
company (Spies) brought in another spouter after the mas- 
sacres, and where Rothschilds have just acquired the property 
of the Akverdov Company ; at the new oil field of Berekei, 
opened up by Nobels and entered by the SchibaieiF and many 
other companies, drilling work is being steadily conducted; 
and at Kaia-Kent, Daghestan, another field visited by me in 
the early spring of this year, drilling is being conducted at 
new places, on new lines, and with every hope of success. The 
other fields, which are expected to add to the large supplies 
necessary to meet the world-wide and growing demands for 
Russian oil, include Chatma, Kertch (Crimea), the Island of 
Tcheleken, the Russian (Northern) part of the Island of 
Sakhalin, Fergana, Telavi (near Tiflis) and many other places. 

5p »P 'I* 'TT 

THE UPKEEP OF WELLS AND THE WATER 
TROUBLE. 

In Chapter XII. I refer to the life of the wells. As the 
development of the oil fields extends, the upkeep of wells, 
chiefly deepening and repair, becomes a more important part 
of the routine work at the oil fields. The life, or the oil- 
yielding period, is steadily diminishing. Formerly it averaged 
6-7 years, now hardly half that time. Increasing depth and 
the water trouble are making the technical part of oil field 
work more complicated and difficult. During the past few 
years water has found its way into nearly all developed layers, 
and consequently repairs and cementing are more frequently 
needed. Deepening comes first, and then follow repairs in the 
shape of strengthening deformed casing, cementing and similar 



APPENDIX. 



249 



operations. The bottom of a well has often to be cleared of 
sand, clay or debris, which, gradually accumulating, block up 
the channels through which the oil finds its way. A well, 
especially if recently brought in, has to be frequently cleansed 
with the ordinary bailing drum, American sand pump, &c. It 
is only a question of time before these expedients for rejuvenat- 
ing a well become inadequate, when exploitation has to be 
temporarily suspended and a boring rig mounted in the place 
of the bailing drum. 

The following table shows the number of wells which have 



155 
213 
ig6 

255 
309 
249 
278 
293 



1 deepened i 


n all fields : — 




1889 ... 


... 28 


1897 ... 


1890 ... 


... 50 


1898 ... 


1891 ... 


. ... 87 


1899 ... 


1893 ... 


... Ill 


1900 ... 


1893 ... . 


... 103 


1901 ... 


1894 ... 


... lOI 


1902 ... 


1895 ... 


... 131 


1903 ... 


1896 ... 


... 172 


1904 ... 



* 



THE ST. PETERSBURG CONFERENCE. 

The first conference at St. Petersburg (October 5th) was 
attended by fifty-eight delegates. Those present included : — 
Mr. V. N. Kokovtzev, Minister of Finance, in the chair ; Mr. I. 
V. I. Timiriazev, Assistant Minister of Finance; Mr. I. F. 
Dzhunkovski, representing the Viceroy of the Caucasus; Mr. A. 
I. Drei, the Ministry of Means of Communications; Mr. E. K. 
Tzigler, Director of Government Railways ; Mr. P. V. Ol, the 
Society for the Encouragement of Russian Trades and Indus- 
tries : Mr. V. N. Petzikovski, Director of the Vladicaucasian 
Railway; Messrs. M. V. Pappe, Yassiuninski, and E. J. 
Kaminski, for the Baku, Moscow and Warsaw Exchanges 
respectively ; Messrs. P. O. Gukassov (Chairman), G. Kiandz- 
huntzev and Frolov, of the Council of the Baku Petroleum 
Producers' Association ; Mr. Khatissov, Chairman of the Baku 
Branch of the Imperial Technical Society ; Mr. N. S. Lavrov, 
the St. Petersburg Technical Society ; Mr. A. A. Wolski, the 
South Russian Metallurgical Works ; Messrs. N. S. Avdakov 



2SO APPENDIX. 

and F. Enaki, the Donetz Collieries; Mr. Yukovski, the 
Dombrova Collieries ; Mr. D. V. Sirotkin, Volga Shipbuilders ; 
for the Baku producers, Messrs. E. L. Nobel, K. A. Shalkovski 
(Caspian and Black Sea Company), J. Gadzhiev, Ter-Akopov, 
BenckendorfF, Scriepinski, Ogulevitch, Tagianossov, Lianozov, 
and Sadukiantz ; Messrs. Toptchibassev and Agaiev, of Baku ; 
Mr. Lazarev, Engineer ; Mr. Xapshin, Mr. Leslie Urquhart 
and von Ofenheim, representing Anglo-Russian interests at 
Baku ; Mr. Fred Lane, of the Consolidated Petroleum 
Company, London ; Mr. A. Gukassov, London office of the 
Caspian Company, and others. 

The chairman in a lengthy address said the occurrences on 
those regrettable " August- September days " had fearfully 
shaken, if they had not entirely destroyed, a hitherto progressive 
and most useful industry. About three-fifths of the oil-bearing 
area was in ruins, while the remaining two-fifths would remain 
idle until such times as work could be resumed with safety. 

At the second sitting of the conference the memorandum of 
the Baku Producers' Association was read. The producers 
said, for the second time this year the attention of the world 
had been rivetted on Baku and its oil fields ; for the second 
time wholesale massacres had taken place, and the last ones 
had been made more serious by incendiarism and the destruc- 
tion of oil field property. The calamity bore the stamp of a 
deep, chronic and rapidly developing trouble. In December 
there was a strike which reduced the crude output by 
30,000,000 poods, and caused a reduction in the average pro- 
duction of wells. In February there was a massacre, during 
the progress of which residences in the town were fired and 
pillaged. An epidemic of strikes culminated in a general 
labour trouble and suspension of work in May. Anonymous 
threatening letters were posted, there were assassinations, and 
everyone anticipated a repetition of the February massacres. 
Finally, the upheaval during August and September dwarfed 
the February massacres, in regard to duration, the number of 
victims, and the frenzy of the conflicting parties. There was 
a systematic destruction of the oil fields by incendiaries and 
armed bands. The labour movement must be guided into 



APPENDIX. 251 

channels which would be beneficial to the workmen and the 
industry, while steps must also be taken to suppress acts of 
savagery on the part of those dregs of the populace from which 
the perpetrators of massacres, robbery, and incendiarism were 
chiefly recruited. The residents of Baku and the oil field 
region were in hourly fear of being robbed and killed, and 
these, surely, were entitled to claim protection for life and 
property at the hands of the Government. The producers 
appealed to the Government to protect the inhabitants against 
murderers and robbers. The re-establisliment of military 
authority and a law improved and supplemented to suit the 
changed conditions should form the basis of the action of the 
Government. If the authorities had done their duty, the 
February massacres would not have taken place, because they 
had the means of putting an end to the disorders. The 
massacres were not prevented ; the murderers were allowed to 
do their work unmolested, and were never brought to justice. 
The Criminal Investigator at Baku only completed his 
inquiries in connection with the February massacres on 
October 19th. His investigations covered 412 cases, and a 
separate report on each has been sent to the Public Prosecutor. 
That the criminals went unpunished was one of the chief 
causes£which led to the outbreaks at Erivan, Nakitchevan, 
Shusha, and other places and precipitated the September 
massacres. The producers submitted a lengthy list of 
recommendations. At every sitting there were long dis- 
cussions, but they were invariably barren of results. At the 
final sitting when the results were announced it cannot be said 
that they gave satisfaction to those present. The Government 
refused to allow the import of residuum duty free, or to 
indemnify those who sustained loss during the disturbances. 
While it agreed in principle to advance loans for the re- 
equipment of the oil fields it stipulated for five per cent, per 
annum, a mortgage on the properties of those accepting loans, 
and repayment in twelve years. Other decisions were only 
interesting to those connected with the home industry. 



252 



APPENDIX. 



Baku Stocks up to July ist, 1905. 



Crude. 



Oil fields. Refineries, 



Residuum 
and other 
Products. 



lUumlnat* 
ing Oils. 



Lubri- 
cating 
Oils. 



In thousand poods. 



January ist, 1891 


4775 


5-000 


15-000 


5-346 


•756 


30-877 




189a 


g'230 


11-000 


37-000 


7-076 


1-064 


55-360 




1893 


i6-a8o 


13-140 


33-000 


8-193 


•708 


70-330 




1894 


i9'577 


14-933 


34-353 


10-341 


•878 


80-081 




1895 


9-369 


11-789 


36-606 


5-665 


1-254 


54-583 




, i8g6 


4-334 


39-907 


35-133 


11-331 


1-560 


73-044 




1897 


6-372 


31-971 


47-693 


14-357 


1-384 


91-776 




, 1898 


4-937 


15-335 


52-301 


13-410 


1-681 


87-664 




1899 


7-163 


i3-i86 


53-034 


10-361 


2-321 


85-055 




, I goo 


7-153 


39-809 


38-613 


18-113 


2-083 


105-767 




. 1901 


9-069 


37-324 


60-310 


22-033 


2-63g 


131-375 




, 1903 


17-158 


56-831 


74-225 


14-735 


3-539 


166-488 




1903 


10-150 


33-900 


83-908 


20-065 


3-475 


151-498 




. 1904 


8-235 


38-838 


57-549 


24-510 


3-330 


131-442 




1905 


7-969 


35-482 


44-445 


16-106 


3-382 


107-384 


July IS 


t, 1905 — 


6-449 


35-884 


42-325 


13-897 


a-3i6 


90-771 



APPENDIX. 



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254 



APPENDIX. 



BATOUM EXPORTS. 

The exports from Batoum from January ist to October ist 
(o.s.), 1905, were : — 



Illuminating Oils. 


Residuum. 


other Products. 


1904. 


1905- 


1904. 


1905. 


1904. 


1905. 


To Europe 31,268,000 
„ East 16,434,000 
„ Russia 3,373,000 


17,531,000 
8,573,000 
2,334,000 


976,000 
75,000 

13,000 


10,356,000 
234,000 
158,000 


7,464,000 
310,900 
193,000 



Owing to some serious strikes and disorders at the port the 
export trade was brought to a standstill for several weeks. 
On October 19th business was resumed, when the Spondilus, 
one of the largest of the Shell Transport and Trading Com- 
pany's tank steamers, loaded a cargo of 10,000 tons of 
illuminating oil for the East. 

While this book is in the press great quantities of American 
case oil are being shipped to the Far East. The idea is to 
prevent Russian oil from regaining a foothold in those impor- 
tant markets and at the same time stop others from securing 
an advantage during the time of Russia's misfortune. When 
the Russian fields begin producing again the oil men of Baku 
and Batoum will find that the Americans have overstocked 
the Far Eastern markets and that it will be practically 
impossible for them to regain the position they have lost in 
that part of the world. They will then be compelled to pay 
greater attention to the inland Russian markets. Needless to 
say Russian oil will always be shipped to this country, although 
events at Baku have encouraged Roumania, Galicia and other 
producing countries to devote attention to the advantage of 
refining oil of a quality that will suit the British consumer. 

Shipments from Batoum having almost ceased, there has 
been a rise in the price of oil in this country, the distributing 
companies having entered into an arrangement, which, being 
verbal, does not promise to last long. 

* * * * 



APPENDIX. 255 

RUSSIAN WEIGHTS AND MEASURES. 

The following information should be of value to many who 
are engaged in the Russian oil business in different parts of the 
world. 

Weights. 

Russian lb. = "9028 English lb. = "4095 kg. 
English lb. = i"i076 Russian lbs. = •4536 kg. 
One kilogram = 2*2046 English lbs. = 2'44i9 Russian lbs. 
One pood (40 Russian lbs.) = 36-114 English lbs. = i6'38 kg. 
Cwt. (112 lbs.) = 124-0512 Russian lbs. = 50-8032 kg. 
Metric Centner (100 kg.) = 220-46 lbs. = 244-19 Russian lbs. 
English ton (2,240 lbs.) = 62-0280 poods = 1-06 metric ton. 
Metric ton (1000 kg.) = -9842 English ton = 61-048 poods. 

Measures of Length. 

Russian duim = English inch. 

Vershock = if duims. 

Foot (12 duims) = i English foot = -30479441616 metre. 

Arshin (3 feet) = "(7) yard = -71118696104 metre. 

English yard = 1-285714 arshin (36 duims) = -914391428 metre. 

Metre = 3-2808992 feet = 1-09362355 yard = 22-49759792 

vershocks. 
Sazhen (7 feet) = 2-1 33291 metres. 
Verst (500 sazhens) = -66269 English mile = 1-06678 

kilometres. 
English mile (5280 feet) = 1-50857 versts = i -6093 kilometres. 
Kilometre = -9374 verst = -62 11 English mile. 
Russian mile (7 versts) = 4-63883 English miles = 7-48746 

kilometres. 

Measures of Area. 

Dessiatin (60 by 40 sazhens) = 117,600 square^ feet = 2-6997 

acres = i -0925 hectares. 
Acre = -3704 dessiatin = -442244 hectare. 
Hectare = '9153 dessiatin = -4048 acre. 

Measures of Capacity (for Liquids). 
Vedro = 2-70698 English gallons = 3-249 American gallons 

= I2'299 litres (12,299 c. cm.). 



256 APPENDIX. 

English gallon = '3694 vedro = i"2 American gallons 

= 4-5435 litres. 
Litre = -081308 vedro = -228 English gallons = -264 American 

gallons. 
American gallon = "3078 vedro = -8332 English gallon = 

3785 litres. 

Equivalent Weights and Measures of Caucasian and 
American Oils. 

Caucasian Crude of -878 sp. gr. 

Vedro = 26'34 Russian lbs. 
Imperial gallon = 97 Russian lbs. 
Litre = 2-144 Russian lbs. 
American gallon = 8-1 Russian lbs. .. 

A pood occupies 11 39 cubic inches = 4-123 imperial gallons = 
18-656 litres = 4-939 American gallons. 

Caucasian Export Kerosene of -825 sp. gr. 

Vedro = 24-75 Russian lbs. 

Imperial gallon = 9-139 Russian lbs. 

Litre = 2-015 Russian lbs. 

American gallon = 7-617 Russian lbs. 

Pood = 4"377 imperial gallons = 19-9 litres = 5-249 American 

gallons. 
English ton = 271-49 English gallons. 

(American kerosene of equal volume only weighs 96-6 per 
cent, of Russian export kerosene, i.e., the American is 3-4 per 
cent, lighter than the Russian.) 



BRADBURY, AGNBW, & CO. LD., PRINTERS, LONDON AND TONBRIDGS, 



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